Stocks set for mixed open | Trump signals trade deadline flexibility | Tesla plans leasing options

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a mostly lower open on Wall Street this morning after the Nasdaq logged its seventh straight session of gains. The S&P 500 advanced in six of the last seven sessions. The Dow was up four in the last five sessions. (CNBC)

U.S.-China trade talks continue in Washington today, with President Donald Trump signaling flexibility on the March tariff cease-fire deadline. Chinese state media warned that new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would be "catastrophic" for global stocks. (CNBC)

Investors get more insight into the Fed's thinking on the economy and interest rates, when the minutes from its January meeting are out at 2 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, weekly mortgage applications rose 3.6 percent, a sign of hope for the spring home buying season. (CNBC)

CVS Health (CVS) shares were sinking after the pharmacy giant reported better-than-expected earnings but missed estimates on revenue. CVS also warned on full-year earnings. CVS closed its $70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna in November. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

A winter storm is expected to batter every state east of the Mississippi River, bringing snow and ice. Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington should get the worst of the storm today. Airlines were already cancelling flights. (USA Today)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of a resolute response if the U.S. decides to station missiles in neighboring European countries. Earlier this month, the U.S. confirmed suspension of its participation in the decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (CNBC)

The Trump administration wants California to pay back billions of dollars for the bullet train. California said the move was in response to the state suing the administration over the president's emergency declaration to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP)

The government's top ethics watchdog disclosed that it had refused to certify a financial disclosure report from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. "I remain committed to complying with my ethics agreement," Ross said in a statement. (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) plans to launch a leasing option for its Model 3 automobile, according to clean energy website Electrek, citing a company email sent to employees saying they would be able to lease a Model 3 within two weeks. No word on when consumers will have that option.

* Musk says Tesla won't be getting involved with cryptocurrency (CNBC)

Tesla chief Elon Musk expects the electric automaker to have the technology needed to essentially operate vehicles without drivers by year-end. Tesla's autopilot system has garnered both positive attention for its sophistication and negative attention for its association with accidents. (CNBC)

Southwest Airlines (LUV), alarmed by a spike in flight cancellations and delays in the past several days due to reported maintenance issues, has taken the unusual step of publicly apologizing to customers and blaming the mess on its mechanics' union. (USA Today)

* Goldman Sachs downgrades Southwest because new Hawaii route could be too costly (CNBC)

Payless ShoeSource, which filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, hopes to keep its 2,500 U.S. stores open until at least the end of March and the majority until May. The liquidation will not impact its franchised or Latin American stores. (CNBC)

Microsoft (MSFT) said hackers targeted European think tanks and non-profit organizations, which often have contact with government officials. The attacks were carried out late last year through phishing campaigns to steal employee credentials and deliver malware. (CNBC)

Germany is not ready to exclude Huawei from its 5G network, a blow to U.S. efforts to persuade allies to ban the Chinese tech firm. In December, Canada arrested Huawei's CFO at the request of the U.S., which alleged bank and wire fraud in violation of American sanctions against Iran. (CNBC)

* UK defense think tank warns that allowing Huawei into 5G network is 'irresponsible' (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Deutsche Bank (DB) officials were worried enough that President Trump might default on loans after he was elected that the institution considered extending the repayment dates, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) settled with the U.S. in a case involving the drugmaker's agreements with rivals. The government had charged that those agreements kept cheaper generic drugs off the market.

Herbalife (HLF) came in 2 cents ahead of estimates with adjusted quarterly per-share profit of 63 cents. The health products maker, however, saw revenue slightly miss estimates. Herbalife raised its sales growth forecast for 2019.

LendingClub (LC) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 3 cents per share, a penny above estimates. The online lender's revenue was slightly below forecasts. The company also warned on full-year revenue.

WATERCOOLER

The FDA is discouraging people from being infused with young blood, a procedure that's becoming increasingly common but hasn't been proven to have medical benefits. (CNBC)

The first tax filing season under the new federal tax law is proving to be surprising, confusing — and occasionally frightening — for some Americans, especially those accustomed to getting money back from the government. (CNBC)