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Geopolitics from Germany to North Korea are drivers on Wall Street

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Wall Street is looking to see green today on St. Patrick's Day, and U.S. stock futures were higher this morning. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq were all higher for the week ahead of Friday's session. (CNBC)

Ahead of today's White House meeting between President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, administration officials have downplayed Trump's campaign criticism of Merkel. (NBC News)

In Germany, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is scheduled to attend the gathering of G20 finance ministers and central bankers. The two-day meeting begins today. (CNBC)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today military action against North Korea was "an option on the table," in a clear signal the new White House has lost patience with diplomacy. (USA Today)

House Speaker Paul Ryan has backed statements from key lawmakers that there's no evidence supporting Trump's wiretapping claim. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the president. (CNBC)

Calling them "nonsense" and ridiculous," British intelligence agency GCHQ denied allegations from the White House that the group had helped former President Barack Obama spy candidate-Trump. (CNBC)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, whose confirmation hearing begins Monday, has expressed sentiments in cases that contrast with Trump administration's illegal immigration crackdown. (WSJ)

White House economic advisor Gary Cohn, formerly of Goldman Sachs, is selling a significant holding of a Chinese banking giant as he clears potential conflicts of interest to serve in his new role. (NY Times)

Goldman Sachs (GS) has become a big buyer of soured mortgages, trying to make money even as the firm looks to fulfill terms of a government settlement to help struggling homeowners. (WSJ)

Boeing (BA) signed a $3.4 billion U.S. government contract for its Apache attack helicopters. Major defense companies stand to benefit under President Trump's new budget blueprint. (Reuters)

Caterpillar (CAT) hired former U.S. Attorney General William Barr as outside counsel to help in connection with an Internal Revenue Service investigation of its import and export practices. (Reuters)

Amazon (AMZN) has started rolling out its digital voice assistant Alexa on Apple's iPhone via the e-commerce giant's main shopping app. Amazon has been pushing to get Alexa on more devices. (CNBC)

Apple (AAPL) has announced plans to set up another two research and development centers in China. Apple said it's committed to invest more than $507 million in research in China. (CNBC)

Nintendo plans to manufacture 16 million or more of its Switch consoles in the year starting April 1, up from an initial plan for 8 million, owing to strong demand since its March launch. (WSJ)

As criticism of Uber has mounted over the past month, one of its most prominent partners, Spotify, has discussed whether to continue its relationship with the ride-hailing company. (The Verge)

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he's "not too worried" about what would happen if new FCC chairman guts net neutrality rules "because consumers know they're entitled to getting all of the web services." (The Verge)

Actress Jessica Alba's The Honest Company replaced CEO Brian Lee with Clorox veteran Nick Vlahos. Lee plans to remain on the firm's board and serve in an advisory role to the company. (CNBC)

Canada Goose (GOOS) shares were higher in premarket trading after surging 25 percent on their trading debut on Thursday, marking it the second-biggest IPO of the year. (CNBC)

Tiffany (TIF) this morning reported quarterly earnings, revenue, and same-store sales that beat expectations. The luxury goods retailer also gave an upbeat outlook for 2017. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

It's a quadruple witching Friday, which could bring some late volatility on Wall Street. In the last hour of trading, stock index futures, stock index options, stock options, and single-stock futures expire.

The week concludes with three economic reports, starting with the Fed's February industrial production figures at 9:15 a.m. ET. The University of Michigan's preliminary March consumer sentiment index and the Conference Board's February index of leading economic indicators are out at 10 a.m. ET.

Adobe Systems (ADBE), late Thursday, beat estimates with quarterly earnings and revenue. The software maker saw increasing demand for its Creative Cloud suite. Adobe also issued a rosier outlook.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Hedge fund ValueAct Capital raised its stake in Valeant (VRX) to 5.2 percent, a few days after Bill Ackman's Pershing Square sold its position in the embattled drugmaker.

AstraZeneca (AZN) said the FDA has rejected its new drug designed to treat high potassium levels. The drugmaker said it's working with the agency in hopes of resolving the concerns.

KKR (KKR) is buying insurance broker USI Insurance Services from Canada's Onex for $4.3 billion.

Nokia (NOK) is splitting its Mobile Networks division in two as part of a structural change. One unit retains the Mobile Networks name, the other gets a new moniker, Global Services.

WATERCOOLER

March Madness continues today after the first round tipped off on Thursday with the Northwestern Wildcats edging the Vanderbilt Commodores, 68-66, to win their first tournament game ever. (USA Today)

Disney's (DIS) live-action "Beauty and the Beast," co-starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, opens in theaters today. The movie is expected to draw more than $120 million domestically. (Variety)