Fed anticipation and snow storm could put temporary freeze on market action

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were lower this morning, but a mixed start to the week did result in three-day win streak for the S&P 500 and four consecutive gains for the Nasdaq. The Dow fell modestly on Monday. (CNBC)

The 10-year Treasury yield was higher this morning after hitting 2.609 percent, the highest level in over two years on expectations the Fed will raise interest rates this week. (WSJ)

Despite the snow, central bankers said they'll begin their two-day March gathering today as planned. The policy statement is due tomorrow afternoon, followed by a Janet Yellen news conference. (CNBC)

The CNBC Fed Survey for March sees 100 percent of respondents believing the Federal Reserve will announce a rate increase on tomorrow and 70 percent saying it will do so again in June.

Billionaire Bill Ackman has sold his 27.2 million share position in Valeant (VRX) at around $11 per share, sources told CNBC. Ackman's hedge fund bought the stock at an average cost of $196 per share in 2015. (CNBC)

Valeant shares were tanking about 10 percent in the premarket. The stock hit an all-time high of $263.81 in August 2015. Ackman won't stand for re-election to Valeant's board. (CNBC)

A powerful late winter storm threatens to dump as much as two feet of snow in the Northeast, forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights and schools from the Washington, D.C. area to Boston. (NBC News)

President Donald Trump's first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been postponed because of the storm. The White House said Merkel's visit has been rescheduled for Friday. (Reuters)

With the release of the scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, it appears the Trump-backed GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare would break some of his campaign promises. (NBC News)

The CBO estimates the Republican plan would lead to 24 million fewer people having insurance by 2026. And for many older, less affluent Americans insurance premiums would soar, the CBO said. (CNBC & Vox)

House Speaker Paul Ryan highlighted the CBO's estimate for a cut in the federal deficitby $337 billion over the next decade, and argued the GOP plan would increase consumer choice and bring down costs. (CNBC)

Thousands of tech workers at Apple, Facebook and Google plan to walk off the job today to protest Trump's immigration policies, transforming the math geek's celebration of Pi Day 3.14 into a political statement. (Biz Journals)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly used an alias email address in climate change discussions during his time as Exxon Mobil chairman and chief executive, according to New York's attorney general. (WSJ)

The GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee has asked the Justice Department to provide any evidence of Trump's wiretapping claimsbefore next Monday's hearing after the DOJ asked for more time. (NBC News)

Trump has reportedly given the CIA new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, a change from the the Obama administration policy limiting the spy agency's paramilitary role. (WSJ)

North Korea warned the U.S. of "merciless" attacks if an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson, which is joining South Korean forces for exercises, infringes on its sovereignty or dignity. (Reuters)

SAP (SAP) said it's patched vulnerabilities in the latest version of its HANA software. HANA runs the business software maker's latest database, cloud, and other applications. (Reuters)

Verizon (VZ) sought a $925 million discount on its $4.8 billion purchase of the core internet assets Yahoo (YHOO), which disclosed data breaches. But Verizon agreed to a $350 million reduction in the purchase price. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, Verizon is being sued by New York City, which accuses the telecom giant of failing to fulfill its agreement to offer its FIOS service to every home in the city by 2014. (NY Times)

In an update of its policies, Facebook (FB) said data about users cannot be used for surveillance, cracking down on a method police departments allegedly used to track protesters and activists. (WSJ)

Enterprise software maker Okta has filed to go public, hoping to raise $100 million. Okta has raised more than $228 million from some of Silicon Valley's highest-profile venture capitalists, according to Crunchbase. (CNBC)

As financial institutions race to offer digital financial advice, Charles Schwab (SCHW) has launched a new hybrid service that combines human advisors with its automated investment management technology. (Reuters)

Elon Musk's SpaceX has postponed a planned early morning launch of its Falcon 9 rocket due to high winds. The private space company is working toward the next launch window early Thursday morning. (The Verge)

Musk's pledge to fix South Australia's energy crisis within 100 days, or do it for free, has prompted calls from citizens of New Zealand and the Ukrainian prime minister for similar projects in their countries. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

Small business optimism remained at one of its highest readings in 43 years, as owners await a new healthcare law, tax reform, and regulatory relief from Washington, according to the February NFIB index.

The government is out with February producer prices at 8:30 a.m. ET. But due to the storm delaying federal workers, the numbers will be released on the Labor Department's website instead of the normal media lockup.

The British pound hits an eight-week low after the UK parliament backed the so-called Brexit bill, clearing the way for the government to begin formal negotiations to exit the European Union.

The Dutch prime minister told voters they shouldn't succumb to a "domino effect" of populism seen with the Brexit vote and the Trump election. Polls to elect a new government open tomorrow.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) is cutting 7 percent of its workforce in a major restructuring. The rare-disease drugmaker's CEO and CFO resigned in December after the board lost confidence in them.

Ruby Tuesday (RT) is considering a sale or merger. The restaurant chain operator said it's started a strategic and financial review, but stressed that neither the timing nor the outcome was certain.

Sealed Air (SEE) is in talks to sell its cleaning and chemicals systems division to to private equity firm Bain Capital for up to $4 billion, according to a Reuters report.

Citrix Systems (CTXS) is exploring strategic alternatives including a potential sale, according to Reuters. Private equity firm Thoma Bravo is among those interested in acquiring the maker of networking software.

Synopsys (SNPS) joins the S&P 500 prior to the start of trading on Thursday, replacing U.S. auto-parts supplier Harman (HAR), which was acquired by Samsung in an $8 billion deal completed on Monday.

WATERCOOLER

March Madness opens today with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. New Orleans and Mount St. Mary's tip off at 6:40 p.m. ET, followed by Kansas State and Wake Forest. (USA Today)