Morning Brief

Stocks are set to open higher as the S&P 500 attempts to avoid its longest losing streak of 2018

Key Points


U.S. stock futures were higher this morning, giving the S&P 500 a chance to avoid its longest losing streak of 2018. The benchmark index has fallen for three days in a row. Meanwhile, the Dow has also fallen for three days in a row, the Nasdaq for two. (CNBC)

* A growing market divergence could spell trouble for stocks (CNBC)

Prices of major cryptocurrencies continued their sharp downward slide this morning after Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google announced plans to ban advertising related to the sector. Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency, traded as low as $7,676.52 today, before experiencing a slight rebound. (CNBC)

A busy week for economic numbers continues this morning, with no less than four reports due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. First-time claims for unemployment benefits, February import prices, Empire State Manufacturing Index data as well as the March Philadelphia Fed Index data. (CNBC)

Retailer Dollar General (DG) is among the few companies releasing quarterly earnings this morning, while Adobe Systems (ADBE), Broadcom (AVGO), Jabil Circuit (JBL), Ulta Beauty (ULTA), and Zumiez (ZUMZ) will release quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.


Larry Kudlow, a CNBC senior contributor and longtime economist, will succeed Gary Cohn as President Donald Trump's top economic advisor. Kudlow told CNBC he got a call from the president on Tuesday night as he got into an Uber after dinner. (CNBC)

* Larry Kudlow: China 'has earned a tough response' (CNBC)

Conor Lamb, a Democrat and former Marine, scored a razor-thin victory against Republican candidate Rick Saccone in a special House election in southwestern Pennsylvania. Saccone, who lost by 627 votes, may still contest the outcome. (NY Times)

The Senate approved a bill to ease bank rules, bringing Congress a step closer to passing the first rewrite of the Dodd-Frank reform law enacted after the 2007-2009 global financial crisis. The draft legislation now heads to the House. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, the House passed legislation to help schools and local law enforcement prevent gun violence. The bill would authorize federal grants to fund training, anonymous reporting systems, threat assessments, intervention teams and school and police coordination. (Reuters)

* 3 reasons Gen Z activists have changed the gun control conversation when no one else could (CNBC)

Documents for the first time tie the Trump Organization to the continuing effort to silence former adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with Trump, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Toys R Us made official its liquidation this morning, filing documents with the bankruptcy court that will lead to the sale or closing of its roughly 800 U.S. stores. Still, the company may be able to salvage 200 stores to operate under the Toys R Us brand. (CNBC)

IHeartMedia (IHRT), which has struggled with debt and falling revenue, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today as the largest U.S. radio station owner reached an in-principle agreement with creditors to restructure its overwhelming debt load. (Reuters)

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of embattled blood testing start-up Theranos, has been charged with massive fraud and has agreed to settle and pay a $500,000 fine. The SEC alleges that Theranos raised more than $700 million from late 2013 to 2015 while deceiving investors. (CNBC)


Williams-Sonoma (WSM) reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.68 per share, seven cents above estimates, while the housewares retailer's revenue was slightly above forecasts. The company also gave strong full-year earnings and revenue guidance.

Unilever (UN, UL) announced plans to leave its London headquarters and base itself solely in Rotterdam. The move is part of the consumer products giant's plan to end its dual parent company structure that has been in place for 88 years.

Hasbro (HAS), Mattel (MAT) and other toymakers remain on watch after Toys R Us announced it was closing its U.S. stores after failing to find a buyer. The imminent closure had been widely reported earlier this week. (AMZN) attracted more than 5 million new customers for its Prime service through its original video programming by early 2017, according to company documents seen by Reuters.

Wells Fargo (WFC) faces more legal trouble from U.S. regulators, according to a Reuters report. Regulators are said to be preparing sanctions for the bank for receiving commissions on auto insurance policies that were forced on more than 500,000 drivers. Wells Fargo had earlier blamed a third party vendor for the issue.

Credit Suisse (CS) was sued by an investor, alleging misstatements about the inverse VIX product that lost 90 percent of its value in just a few hours last month during a stock market sell-off. The product was later taken off the market.


United Airlines (UAL) said it's investigating after mistakenly flying a Kansas family's dog to Japan. The news of German shepherd's unplanned odyssey comes as United admitted another dog died after a flight attendant forced it to travel in an overhead bin on a Houston-to-New York flight. (AP)