Morning Brief

US stocks are taking a pause as Wall Street awaits word from Fed's Jerome Powell

Key Points


Futures were little changed this morning, as investors await the outcome of today's Fed policy meeting. Stocks staged a partial rebound yesterday from the Monday sell-off, barely restoring the Dow's gains for 2018, and putting the S&P 500 back in positive territory for the month.

An interest rate hike is considered all but certain, but Fed watchers are waiting to see how the prospect for future interest rate hikes may have changed. They're also curious about what tone the new Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, may take during his first post-meeting conference. (CNBC)

* Powell's first meeting could bring on more market volatility (CNBC)

Facebook (FB) shares remained under pressure this morning as the company faces an investor lawsuit over the controversial use of its data that has hit its stock over the past two trading days. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court, comes from shareholders who said they suffered losses following the disclosure that Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained user information. (CNBC)

* Zuckerberg finally plans to speak (Axios)
* WhatsApp co-founder just told followers to delete Facebook (CNBC)
* Here's everything you need to know about the Cambridge Analytica scandal (CNBC)

Total mortgage application volume fell 1.1 percent last week from the previous week and volume was 5 percent lower than one year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted report. (CNBC)

Several other economic reports will be out ahead of today's Fed statement, starting at 8:30 a.m. ET with the current account deficit for the fourth quarter of 2017. At 10 a.m. ET, the National Association of Realtors will release existing home sales for February. (CNBC)

General Milles (GIS) and Winnebago (WGO) highlight a short list of corporate earnings this morning, while Five Below (FIVE), Guess (GES), Herman Miller (MHLR) and Scholastic Corp. (SCHL) will issue quarterly numbers after today's closing bell. (CNBC)


The suspect believed to be responsible for a series of bombings in Texas has been killed following a confrontation with Austin's Police SWAT team, police said this morning. Police warned to stay vigilant, suggesting there could be other suspect packages. (CNBC)

The White House is reportedly planning to announce a plan to hit China with tariffs and other trade restrictions, but it's unclear whether it will unveil specific regulatory measures. The administration is seeking to target goods that are "meaningful to China." (Politico)

President Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday to congratulate him on his re-election, The New York Times reported. The president reportedly did not bring up Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election or other issues.

A New York state judge denied President Trump's request to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a former "Apprentice" contest who claims he sexually groped her. Summer Zervos claimed Trump defamed her by branding her a liar after she went public. (CNBC)

Lawmakers are working to finalize a massive federal spending bill to finance the government through September and prevent a government shutdown before funding runs out late Friday, even as an approaching winter storm threatened to snarl Washington. (Reuters)

Airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights as an early spring nor'easter threatens to dump more than a foot of snow and bring high winds to parts of the Northeast. The storm today will be the fourth nor'easter this month to affect the region. (CNBC & Weather Channel)

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake has begged President Trump not to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel in charge of the Russia probe. The Arizona Republican also warned that impeachment is "our only constitutional remedy" if he does. (CNBC)

Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski won the nationally watched congressional primary in Illinois against businesswoman Marie Newman, according to the Associated Press. Newman said she would not concede until all the votes were counted.

Insurers are racing to develop coverage for driverless cars as federal investigators examine a pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving Uber vehicle. Car insurers bring in more than $200 billion in premiums a year, but some say that intake could evaporate in coming decades. (WSJ)

* Former Uber CEO has a new gig leading a real-estate start-up (Recode)

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters chose not to renew his contract with Fox News as a contributor. In an email to his colleagues, the former Army veteran said he was "ashamed" of working at the network and that it was a "propaganda machine." (Variety)


FedEx (FDX) reported adjusted quarterly profit of $3.72 per share, easily beating the consensus estimate of $3.11. The delivery company's revenue also beat forecasts on the strength of higher prices and an improving economy. Daily package volume was higher by 6 percent during the quarter compared to a year earlier.

MuleSoft (MULE) agreed to be bought by (CRM) for $44.89 per share in cash and stock, representing a 36 percent premium over the software company's Monday close. MuleSoft stock had risen during Tuesday's session on reports that a deal was near. The total value of the deal is $5.9 billion, excluding assumed debt.

Nordstrom (JWN) has ended discussions with the retailer's founding family about taking the company private, after the two sides could not come to an agreement on price.

Tesla (TSLA) shareholders will vote today on CEO Elon Musk's compensation arrangement, based entirely on a rise in Tesla's market value over the next decade. Pension fund CalSTRS said it opposes the arrangement, saying the potential negative impact on shareholders is too large.

Apple (AAPL) has lost its formerly dominant position in the education marketplace to Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit and Microsoft (MSFT), according to a report in the Washington Post. Google is now shipping 60 percent of technology to schools, with Microsoft at 22 percent. Apple's iOS is at 12.3 percent, with the MacOS at 4.7 percent.


U.S. coffee company Starbucks is reportedly planning to launch tomorrow a colorful new Crystal Ball Frappuccino, much different from the blonde espresso beverages. The new drink began popping up on Instagram earlier this week. (Eater)