IN THE NEWS TODAY
President Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney's run for Senate in Utah. The endorsement came as a surprise to many, as the former Massachusetts governor has been a frequent and harsh critic of Trump, and the now-president has called Romney "a total joke." (CNBC)
* New Pennsylvania map gives Democrats big boost in midterms (Politico)
Small-business confidence is surging in 2018 as optimism rises among small-business owners about the newly-enacted tax reform package, a CNBC survey shows. Half of the small-business owners are now expecting to see tax cuts this year.
* Tax overhaul gains public support, buoying Republicans (NY Times)
Stoneman Douglas High School students are heading to Florida's capital today to urge lawmakers to act to prevent a repeat shooting massacre that killed 17 students and faculty. The students will put pressure on the legislature by holding a rally. (AP)
As corporate America espouses "social responsibility," the financial industry could help limit sales of assault weapons, CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin makes the case in his weekly New York Times column.
* Florida shooting suspect returns to court for hearing (Reuters)
* Russian bots moved to exploit the Florida shooting (NY Times)
* Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough (Washington Post)
The Pentagon will likely announce its new policy on transgender people in the military after six months of legal battles. Several federal court rulings prevented the Pentagon from implementing a ban on transgender troops after Trump first tweeted calling for a ban. (USA Today)
Tokyo-based Sony (SNE) announced today partnerships with several taxi firms to start a ride-hailing service in Japan. And then, hours later, Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi signaled his company's intention to expand further into the country. (CNBC)
Fox News is plotting a leap from traditional cable into an uncertain digital future as consumers move away from satellite packages, according to a New York Times report. Fox News has defied the downward trends, notching its highest-rated year in 2017.
Disney (DIS) and Marvel Studios' "Black Panther" posted the fifth best U.S. opening of all time, earning an estimated $192 million from Friday through Sunday, besting the likes of the Iron Man, Batman and Superman. The blockbuster movie is on pace to earn $218 million including Presidents Day. (CNBC)
STOCKS TO WATCH
General Motors (GM) has offered to convert $2.2 billion in its South Korean operation's debt into equity, in exchange for tax breaks and other benefits from the Seoul government, according to a Reuters report. The automaker announced last week that it would be shutting one of its four South Korean plants and would soon decide the fate of the others.
BHP Billiton (BHP) reported a 25 percent jump in profit for the first half of its fiscal year, but that was short of analyst forecasts. The mining company also announced a dividend hike to 55 cents per share from 40 cents.
HSBC (HSBC) reported a lower than expected annual profit, although the banking company's earnings were more than double year-ago levels. HSBC also announced a plan to raise up to $7 billion over the next four months to boost its capital levels.
Cardinal Health (CAH) was sued by the state of Kentucky, which has accused the drug distributor of failing to halt or report suspiciously large opioid orders. Cardinal Health said it cared deeply about the opioid crisis, that litigation is not the answer, and that it would defend itself vigorously against what it called baseless lawsuits.
Yum Brands' (YUM) KFC restaurants in the U.K. have been facing a chicken shortage, due to logistics problems with new delivery partner DHL. The problem caused KFC to temporarily close hundreds of its U.K. restaurants.