Morning Brief

The Dow is set to open up triple digits, but it may not be enough to erase weekly loss

Key Points


Futures were higher this morning, but the major averages remain on track for their third weekly loss in four weeks. The Dow and S&P 500 are sitting about 6 percent below their all-time highs of Jan. 26, while the Nasdaq is about 4 percent shy of its record high. (CNBC)

General Mills (GIS) announced it's moving into the pet food business with a deal to buy Blue Buffalo Pet Products (BUFF) for roughly $8 billion in cash, sending the pet food maker's stock 17 percent higher in premarket. CNBC first reported the news, citing sources.

Snap (SNAP) stock was still under pressure this morning after reality TV star Kylie Jenner tweeted that she no longer uses the Snapchat app following its redesign. The tweet sent shares plunging, and wiped $1.7 billion off Snap's market cap. (CNBC)

There are no economic reports today, but investors will be firmly focused on the Fed and potential interest rate moves. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's written testimony on the U.S. economic outlook will be released at 11 a.m. ET, ahead of his appearance before Congress next week.

Fed officials take center stage at the Monetary Policy Forum's annual conference in New York, where Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, New York Fed President William Dudley, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, and Kansas City Fed President Esther George will speak. Mester is a voting member of the FOMC for 2018, while Dudley is always a voting member.


Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.a) shareholders will look to Warren Buffett's annual letter tomorrow for new clues of what he plans to do with more than $100 billion in cash. Berkshire has been buying Treasurys, the Wall Street Journal reports. Buffett will join CNBC from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday.

* Two main points to look for in Warren Buffett's annual shareholder letter (CNBC)

BlackRock (BLK), the world's largest asset manager, plans to speak with gun makers after public outcry sparked by the Florida school shooting. The firm indirectly owns shares in the companies through the many exchange-traded funds under BlackRock's iShares umbrella. (CNBC)

* Armed officer on Florida campus did nothing to stop shooter (AP)
* Florida's governor to unveil 'major action plan' after school shooting (USA Today)
* Tom Steyer, gun safety groups plan voter registration drive for high school students (Politico)

President Donald Trump will address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference today. The movement has transformed since Trump was elected, NPR reports, with conservatives fully embracing Trump's populist policies that they were once skeptical.

* Trump's chief of staff and national security advisor may quit soon over tensions with him (Reuters)

The U.S. is expected to announce soon its largest package of sanctions yet against North Korea to further pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs, according to Reuters. Vice President Mike Pence hinted at such a plan on his way to the Winter Games two weeks ago.

* Haley: Trump Mideast peace plan is nearly finished (Washington Post)

The federal commission head who helped states protect election systems from possible cyber attacks is being replaced at the instruction of House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House, raising questions over the degree to which the GOP are taking steps to protect elections. (Reuters)

Special counsel Robert Mueller disclosed a new set of criminal charges filed against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates. The charges are related to alleged false tax returns, bank fraud and failure to report foreign financial accounts. (CNBC)

The Environmental Protection Agency and its polarizing administrator are being sued for allegedly violating federal records laws. Two groups claim the EPA has systematically refused to document "essential activities" and discouraged employees from keeping records. (CNBC)

* Defense Department: unfair steel, aluminum imports are a risk to national security (CNBC)
* Chinese regulator seizes control of Anbang Insurance with its chairman prosecuted for 'economic crimes' (CNBC)

Facebook (FB) is using artificial intelligence to help predict when users may be suicidal. About a year ago, the social network added tech that automatically flags posts with expressions of suicidal thoughts for the company's human reviewers to analyze. (CNBC)

* YouTube made an 'absurd excuse' for why it can't have humans moderate trending videos, says expert (CNBC)


Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 34 cents per share, beating estimates by 12 cents. The networking products maker also saw revenue come in above forecasts, as well as giving strong forward guidance. The company also plans to raise its dividend by 50 percent starting in the third quarter.

HP Inc. (HPQ) came in six cents above estimates with adjusted quarterly profit of 48 cents per share, with the computer and printer company also beating on the top line and giving strong guidance. HP increased its market share during the quarter, even as the PC market continued to shrink.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 78 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 54 cents. The restaurant chain's revenue was also above forecasts, as same-restaurant sales more than doubled estimates with a 2.7 percent increase.

Wingstop (WING) beat estimates by a penny with adjusted quarterly profit of 17 cents per share, while the chicken wing restaurant also reported better than expected revenue. Comparable-restaurant sales rose 5.2 percent, beating the consensus forecast of a 4.8 percent increase. However, Wingstop gave an outlook that fell short of Street forecasts.

Inuit (INTU) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 35 cents per share, one cent above estimates, with revenue essentially in line. The financial software maker did issue weaker than expected current quarter guidance, pressuring the shares.

Planet Fitness (PLNT) edged out consensus estimates by a penny with adjusted quarterly profit of 24 cents per share, while the fitness chain also saw revenue come in above forecasts. The company also announced an $80 million increase in its stock buyback program. Planet Fitness expects full-year sales to increase by about 20 percent for 2018 and earnings to grow about 40 percent.


Russian teenager Alina Zagitova earned a gold medal in women's figure skating at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. The 15-year-old, earning nearly 240 points overall, is now the second youngest women's Olympic gold medalist ever. Here's the medal count. (USA Today & NBC Olympics)