Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to rise, Dems debate, cruise passengers end quarantine


Modest gains appear to be ahead for Wall Street at the Wednesday open, following a mixed session that saw the Dow post a third straight day of losses but also finished with the Nasdaq at a record high. The Nasdaq's small gain Tuesday was its fifth in six sessions, while the S&P 500 posted its second loss in three days. (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the government is out with January figures for both housing starts and producer prices at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Mortgage Bankers Association will be out with its weekly look at mortgage applications at 7 a.m. ET. The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its most recent meeting, at which it left interest rates unchanged, at 2 p.m. ET. (CNBC)

This morning's corporate earnings reports include the latest numbers from Analog Devices (ADI), Bausch Health (BHC), Cedar Fair (FUN), Dish Network (DISH), Garmin (GRMN), and Owens Corning (OC). Today's after-the-bell reports include Avis Budget (CAR), Boston Beer (SAM), Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), Hyatt Hotels (H), Jack In The Box (JACK), Mosaic (MOS), (STMP), Sturm Ruger (RGR), and Zillow Group (ZG).

LendingClub (LC), a fintech company that pioneered personal loans made online, is buying a U.S. bank to give it access to a stable and cheaper source of funding, CNBC has learned. LendingClub is paying $185 million in cash and stock for Radius Bancorp, a Boston-based online bank with about $1.4 billion in assets.


At least six Democratic presidential contenders will meet in a pivotal debate in Nevada tonight at 9 p.m. ET, three days before the state's voters make their picks in an unsettled and tight nominating race for the White House. The caucuses in Nevada on Saturday will be the third contest in the campaign to find a challenger to President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election. (Reuters)

Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened up a double-digit lead nationally over his closest rivals in the Democratic presidential primary, where Michael Bloomberg's rise appears to have scrambled the race, according to a new poll. The Vermont senator has the support of 27% of Democratic primary voters, while 12 points behind is former Vice President Joe Biden. Bloomberg has 14% support, tied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (CNBC)

* Mike Bloomberg sees Bernie Sanders as the only 2020 Democratic candidate who threatens his possible nomination (CNBC)

More than 2,300 Oracle employees have signed a petition against a fundraiser for President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign that's reportedly scheduled to be held today at a Southern California property owned by founder and Chairman Larry Ellison. The employees say Trump's behavior doesn't align with Oracle's stated values, like ethics and mutual respect. (CNBC)

Attorney General William Barr has reportedly told people close to him he's considering quitting his post after Trump wouldn't heed his warning to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases. The revelation came days after Barr took a public swipe at the president, saying that Trump's tweets about Justice Department cases and staffers make it "impossible" for him to do his job. (AP)

Passengers and crew members on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship who are not taking government repatriation flights will begin the process of disembarking today. The ship had been quarantined in Japan since early February after a previous guest tested positive six days after disembarking. A total of 542 cases were confirmed aboard. (CNBC)

* 'I burst into tears' — quarantined passengers to remain in isolation after returning to US soil (CNBC)

The jury in former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's rape trial continues deliberations today. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann in 2013. He faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault. (Reuters)


Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) said it will spend about $600 million this fiscal year on share repurchases and debt reduction, and up to $400 million on store remodels and supply chain upgrades.

Nike (NKE) CEO John Donahoe shuffled the company's executive ranks, with e-commerce chief Heidi O'Neill becoming president of the athletic footwear and apparel maker's consumer business, and chief financial officer Andy Campion switching to chief operating officer. Matthew Friend, its current CFO of operating segments and vice president of investor relations, will become its new CFO.

Shares of Groupon (GRPN) dropped 25% during extended trading Tuesday after the company reported fourth-quarter financial results that missed analyst expectations for the top and bottom line.

Boeing (BA) said "foreign object debris" was found in some undelivered 737 Max jets. The company plans to inspect all undelivered aircraft and added that this issue will not impact the grounded jet's return to service.

Uber Technologies (UBER) will shut down its office in downtown Los Angeles and cut about 80 jobs. Separately, Uber and food delivery rivals DoorDash and Postmates have discussed various merger combinations over the past year, according to The Wall Street Journal, although none of the talks resulted in a deal.

Ally Financial (ALLY) will acquire privately held non-prime consumer lender CardWorks for $2.65 billion in cash and stock. The deal is expected to close during the third quarter.

Blue Apron (APRN) said it would explore strategic options, including a possible sale of the company or mergers with other meal kit providers. That news comes as Blue Apron posts a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss, with revenue falling short of forecasts as well.

Herbalife Nutrition (HLF) reported better-than-expected adjusted quarterly earnings, with the nutritional products company's revenue essentially in line with forecasts. Herbalife said the coronavirus would have a negative impact on future results, although it cannot reasonably estimate that impact as yet.


Whitney Houston is about to appear on the concert stage again. Eight years after her death, a holographic Houston will embark on a European tour that starts in England on Feb. 25 and runs through early April, with U.S. dates expected to follow. "Now is just the right time," said Pat Houston, the singer's sister-in-law, former manager, and the executor of her estate. (AP)