Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq set to add to record highs


U.S. stock futures rose Tuesday, adding to Friday's record closes for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq. The U.S. stock market was closed Monday for Presidents Day. All three stock benchmarks finished higher last week, in a continuation of February's strength. For the year, as of Friday's close, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up nearly 2.8%, 4.8% and 9.4%, respectively. (CNBC)

The 30-year Treasury yield held above 2% early Tuesday as investors watched for progress on President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package on Capitol Hill and the push for wider distribution of coronavirus vaccines across the U.S. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to more than 1.26%. (CNBC)

Bitcoin reached a new record high Tuesday, going over $50,000 per unit for the first time ever, before paring some of those gains. Major firms announced support for digital currencies last week. Bitcoin more than quadrupled in 2020 and it's up over 60% this year. (CNBC)

* MicroStrategy shares rise after firm reveals plans to sell convertible debt to buy more bitcoin (CNBC)


More than 3.8 million households in Texas were in the dark Tuesday morning, as record low temperatures boosted demand for power for heat that pushed the state's electric grid to its limits. Rolling blackouts, typical on hot summer days, were imposed in Texas. The frigid weather was part of a massive winter blast that brought snow, sleet and freezing rain to the southern Plains, across parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast. (AP)

The scarcity of power was so great that spot prices of wholesale electricity on the Texas power grid spiked more than 10,000% on Monday. Natural gas futures jumped more than 6% on Tuesday morning. However, RBC analysts said, "Certain regional natural gas spot prices have shot up 10- to 100-fold in a matter of days." U.S. oil prices also climbed to a pandemic-high above $60 per barrel as drilling and refineries closed down due to the cold. (CNBC & Reuters)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Congress will establish an independent, 9/11-style commission to look into last month's deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled for later this month in the Rules Committee. (CNBC)

* Senate GOP leader McConnell op-ed: Acquittal vindicated the constitution, not Trump (WSJ)
* Social media platform Parler is back online on ‘independent technology’ (Reuters)
* New York prosecutors investigating Trump’s Manhattan properties (WSJ)

Trying to move beyond Trump's acquittal in last week's impeachment trial, Biden is set to make his first official domestic trips of his presidency, starting with a CNN town hall in Wisconsin on Tuesday and a tour of a Pfizer (PFE) Covid vaccine facility in Michigan on Thursday. (AP)

* Israeli study finds 94% drop in symptomatic Covid-19 cases with Pfizer vaccine (Reuters)
* Covid-linked syndrome in children is growing and cases are more severe (NY Times)

Marriott International (MAR( announced Tuesday the death of its CEO Arne Sorenson, who had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer. Two weeks ago, Marriott said Sorenson would temporarily reduce his schedule to facilitate more demanding treatment. Sorenson became the third CEO in Marriott's history in 2012, and the first without the Marriott surname. (CNBC & Press Release)


CVS Health (CVS): The pharmacy company reported quarterly earnings of $1.30 per share, 6 cents above estimates. Revenue also topped Wall Street forecasts, helped in part by Covid-19 testing and vaccinations at its locations.

Palantir Technologies (PLTR): The business analytics company's stock sank 6.2% in the premarket after reporting a quarterly loss, although revenue did top Street estimates on a jump in new contracts.

AutoNation (AN): The auto retailer beat estimates by 42 cents a share, with quarterly profit of $2.43 per share. Revenue also came in above estimates as demand remains high amid tight inventories. AutoNation announced the addition of $1 billion to its share repurchase program.

Constellation Brands (STZ): Beer brewer AB InBev (BUD) is suing Constellation over its use of the Corona brand name for its hard seltzer. AB InBev contends that a 2013 deal between the two involving the brand name did not allow Constellation to use it for products other than beer.

CoreLogic (CLGX): CoStar Group (CSGP) submitted a new bid to acquire rival real estate data provider CoreLogic worth $95.76 per share in stock, following CoreLogic's Feb. 4 agreement to be acquired by private-equity firms Stone Capital and Insight Partners for $80 per share in cash.

Southwest (LUV): The airline said it continues to experience a significant year-over-year impact on passenger demand due to Covid-19, although it said it does expect an improvement from February to March.

Progressive (PGR): The insurer struck a deal to acquire Protective Insurance (PTVCB) for $23.30 per share in cash, compared to Protective's Friday close of $15.01 per share. Protective shares spiked by about 47% in premarket trading.

Apple (AAPL): Automaker Nissan said it is not in talks with Apple about a possible autonomous vehicle joint venture. A report in the Financial Times had said the two companies briefly discussed the matter, but those talks faltered.

Toyota Motor (TM): The automaker will suspend production at nine factories in Japan following an earthquake that struck Japan's northeast region last week. Toyota did not specify the impact on production.

Facebook (FB): Facebook is designing a smartwatch that would have messaging features as well as provide health and fitness information, according to technology website The Information, quoting people familiar with the matter. Sales of the device would start next year, according to the report.

Nvidia (NVDA): The FTC has opened an investigation into the graphics chipmaker's deal to buy U.K.-based chip designer Arm Holdings for as much as $40 billion. The deal had reportedly been the subject of protests to regulators by Alphabet (GOOGL), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Microsoft (MSFT).

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY): Bristol and French partner Sanofi (SNY) will pay more than $834 million to Hawaii in a case involving the blood-thinning drug Plavix. The state had accused the drugmakers of failing to warn non-white patients of the risks associated with the drug. Bristol and Sanofi said the ruling was not consistent with the evidence and vowed to appeal.

Cintas (CTAS): The provider of uniforms and building services gave a better-than-expected current-quarter earnings outlook, saying it now has a clearer picture of the impact of Covid-19 on its business and that its balance sheet remains solid.