Morning Brief

What to watch today: Stocks set for mostly lower open after another major comeback

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BY THE NUMBERS

Dow futures were steady Thursday, one day after the 30-stock average wiped out a 110-point loss and climbed 424 points, or 1.4%, to a record closing high. S&P and Nasdaq futures dropped in Thursday's premarket. The tech-heavy Nasdaq on Wednesday erased a 1.3% drop and closed 1% higher. The S&P 500 finished 1.1% higher after recovering from a 0.6% decline. (CNBC)

Two days of reassuring words on interest rates and inflation from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell helped push stocks higher and tempered bond yield gains Wednesday. But on Thursday, the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.45%, around the highest levels in a year. Bitcoin rose 2% early Thursday, back above $50,000. (CNBC)

The government this morning reported 730,000 new filings for unemployment benefits last week, way below estimates, though the numbers may be skewed due to rough winter weather in parts of the country. Nevertheless, that's a huge initial jobless claims drop of 111,000 from the downwardly revised prior week. Despite the decline, the total still was well above anything the U.S. labor market had ever seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic. (CNBC)

* Best Buy sees weakening sales and expects that to continue (CNBC)
* Papa John's restructuring costs a blow to earnings but pizza demand still strong (CNBC)
* Victoria's Secret owner L Brands beat on earnings, issued strong outlook (CNBC)
* Virgin Galactic replaces CFO, adds new leadership ahead of earnings report (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

GameStop (GME) climbed more than 70% in Thursday's premarket trading as heavily shorted stocks favored by Reddit traders surged again. Shares of the video game retailer doubled Wednesday to nearly $92 each after Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell resigned. The GameStop frenzy last month sent shares skyrocketing, causing a short squeeze on a number of Wall Street hedge funds. (CNBC)

* Robinhood is still on track for a hot IPO despite the GameStop controversy (CNBC)
* Charlie Munger says novice investors getting lured into a bubble by Robinhood (CNBC)

Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) said Thursday they are testing a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the coronavirus. They are also in talks with regulatory authorities about testing a vaccine modified to protect specifically against the new variant found in South Africa. (Reuters)

* Covid variants could 'undermine all of our efforts,' CDC director says (CNBC)
* New York City public middle schools reopen today for the first time since November (AP)

Moderna (MRNA) has shipped to the National Institutes of Health doses of a new Covid vaccine designed to provide better protection against the variant spreading in South Africa. The new vaccine is ready to be tested in an early-stage clinical trial to determine if it can be used as a booster shot against the highly transmissible strain. (CNBC)

* Moderna expects $18.4 billion in 2021 sales from Covid vaccine (CNBC)

Target (TGT) is opening mini Apple (AAPL) nshops inside 17 stores this month and plans to expand to more locations in the fall. The retailer has opened other "shop in shops" with Disney (DIS) and Levi's (LEVI) and has hundreds planned with Ulta Beauty (ULTA). (CNBC)

* Netflix to spend $500 million in South Korea this year to develop new content (CNBC)
* Verizon is the top bidder on 5G spectrum, committing more than $45 billion (CNBC)
* Qualcomm sued over alleged anti-competitive behavior in the UK (CNBC)

Republicans rallied against Democrats' proposed $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill as lawmakers awaited a decision by the Senate's parliamentarian that could bolster or kill a pivotal provision hiking the federal minimum wage. Despite narrow majorities on Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders were poised to push the sweeping package through the House on Friday. (AP)

* House to vote to enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation's labor and civil rights laws (AP)

Tiger Woods is unlikely to face criminal charges stemming from a serious car crash that briefly trapped him inside the mangled wreckage, a top Southern California law enforcement official said Wednesday. "This is purely an accident," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. (NBC News)

* Woods' injuries 'more difficult to heal,' says an orthopedic surgeon (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Wayfair (W): The furniture and home goods seller earned $1.24 per share for its latest quarter, above the consensus estimate of 86 cents a share. Revenue was slightly below Wall Street forecasts, as were the number of orders and the shares fell 9% premarket.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH): The cruise line operator's shares rose 1.9% in the premarket after quarterly revenue came in well above estimates, despite the Covid-19 related shutdown of cruises. Its loss of $2.33 per share for its latest quarter was slightly wider than the consensus estimate of a $2.17 per share loss.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD): Anheuser-Busch reported better-than-expected profit and revenue for the fourth quarter. The company also forecast higher earnings for 2021, however the beer brewer said its profit margins would be hurt by higher commodity costs. Its shares fell 5.3% in premarket trading.

ViacomCBS (VIAC) : iacomCBS came in 2 cents a share ahead of estimates, with quarterly profit of $1.04 per share. Revenue essentially was in line with Wall Street forecasts. The company also said it had 30 million streaming subscribers, ahead of its planned March 4 launch of Paramount+ service that will replace the current CBS All Access service. Its shares dropped 2.8% in premarket action.

Teladoc Health (TDOC): Teladoc dropped 6.5% in premarket trading after it reported a loss of 27 cents per share for its latest quarter, 3 cents a share wider than Wall Street had expected. The provider of video medical visits' revenue came in above estimates.

Nvidia (NVDA): Nvidia reported quarterly earnings of $3.10 per share, compared to a $2.81 a share consensus estimate. The company best known for its gaming chips saw revenue beat estimates as well. Nvidia also predicted strong revenue for the current quarter, but the shares were down 2.6% in premarket action.

Fisker (FSR): Fisker struck a deal with contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology to assemble cars for the electric vehicle startup. The agreement calls for the companies to jointly produce more than 250,000 vehicles annually. Shares fell 1% premarket.

Pure Storage (PSTG): Pure Storage came in 4 cents a share ahead of estimates, with quarterly profit of 13 cents per share. The provider of business memory storage systems also saw revenue beat Wall Street forecasts. Pure Storage gave a mixed forecast, but it was the first time it gave any forward guidance since the pandemic began. Shares gained 2.5% in the premarket.