Morning Brief

What to watch today: Nasdaq set to fall as tech stocks slump on rising bond yields

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BY THE NUMBERS

Nasdaq futures fell Friday, one day after the tech-heavy index soared 329 points, or 2.5%, on gains in the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet. However, as bond yields ticked back up Friday, tech stocks resumed their recent slide. The Dow was set to rise and the S&P 500 was set to fall after both benchmarks closed at record highs Thursday. (CNBC)

The stock market, especially tech names, has been held hostage by the bond market. Recently, when yields rise tech stocks fall and when yields fall tech stocks rise. The 10-year Treasury yield, which moves inversely to price, rose to about 1.6% on Friday, back toward recent one-year highs. Higher interest rates erode the value of growth companies' future profits, compressing their stock valuations. (CNBC)

The government Friday reported producer prices for February rose 0.5%, matching expectations. The University of Michigan is out with its mid-March consumer sentiment index. Economists expect a rise to 78.9 from February's final reading of 76.8. There are no earnings reports scheduled to be released after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Joe Biden is directing states to make all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccines by May 1. In his first prime-time address, he also said Thursday that Americans should hopefully be able to gather in small groups to celebrate the Fourth of July. Biden is set to embark on a nationwide tour next week to tout the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. (CNBC)

* Dr. Kavita Patel: July 4th may mark Covid 'turning point' but will remain part of daily life (CNBC)
* Hyatt Hotels CEO sees ‘clear path to recovery’ after Covid rocked industry (CNBC)

Biden spoke hours after signing the bill into law Thursday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule. The plan, a top priority in the early days of his presidency, sends direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, extends a federal unemployment benefits boost, expands the child tax credit and puts funds into vaccine distribution. (CNBC)

Novavax's Covid-19 vaccine was 96% effective in preventing cases caused by the original version of the coronavirus in a late-stage trial conducted in the U.K. Shares of Maryland-based Novavax surged 20% in Friday's premarket. There were no cases of severe illness or death among those who got the two-shot vaccine. (Reuters)

* More countries suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations over blood clot fears (CNBC)

Sanofi (SNY) and Translate Bio (TBIO) began a human trial for their second Covid-19 vaccine project, following a delay in their first vaccine last year. The two companies expect interim study results in the third quarter. Translate Bio shares rose 5.1% premarket. Sanofi was little changed. (Reuters)

The speaker of the New York Assembly authorized an impeachment investigation into allegations of misconduct by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been the subject of multiple sexual harassment claims in recent weeks. Cuomo has denied ever being physically inappropriate with any women. (CNBC)

* NY Democrats start to discuss running for governor as Cuomo resists calls to resign (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Ulta Beauty (ULTA) announced that CEO Mary Dillon will step down in June, and that she'll be replaced by company President David Kimbell. Dillon will move to the role of executive chairman. Separately, the cosmetics retailer beat estimates on the top and bottom lines for its latest quarter, but did cut its fiscal 2021 comparable sales outlook. Ulta lost 8.2% in premarket trading.

Poshmark (POSH) reported better-than-expected sales for its latest quarter, but the online retailer of secondhand goods issued a current-quarter forecast that was short of analyst estimates. Its stock tumbled 12.3% in premarket action.

Fashion accessories retailer Buckle (BKE) reported quarterly earnings of $1.33 per share, 7 cents above estimates, with revenue matching Wall Street forecasts. Comparable store sales were up 18% compared to a year earlier, with online sales up 81.5%. Shares dropped in the premarket.

Vail Resorts (MTN) beat forecasts on both the top and bottom lines in its latest quarterly earnings report, even though the resort operator was forced to operate at reduced capacity due to the pandemic. Vail said visitation trends improved throughout the quarter. Shares surged 9.7% premarket.

DocuSign (DOCU) beat estimates by 15 cents with an adjusted quarterly profit of 37 cents per share, and the electronic signature company's revenue was also above analysts' forecasts. It also issued a better-than-expected outlook, but shares fell 4% in premarket trading.

Alibaba (BABA) is facing a possibly record fine from China antitrust regulators, according to The Wall Street Journal. The paper said the fine could exceed the $975 million that chipmaker Qualcomm paid in 2015, as regulators push Alibaba to disassociate itself from founder Jack Ma and to align itself more closely with the Communist Party. The e-commerce giant's shares fell 2.1% in premarket action.

Verizon (VZ) launched a $25 billion debt sale to help fund its $45 billion purchase of wireless spectrum that will be used to expand next-generation 5G mobile service. MarketWatch reports demand was extremely strong for the sale, more than four times oversubscribed at one point.

Pipeline services company Aegion (AEGN) is the subject of a bidding contest between New Mountain Capital (NMFC) and Apollo Global (APO), according to a Bloomberg report. Aegion jumped 11.5% premarket, while Apollo rose 2.4% and New Mountain increased modestly.

The bidding battle to buy Coherent (COHR) continues, with the maker of lasers and laser technology saying the latest bid by optoelectronic components maker II-VI (IIVI) is superior to the most recent bid from Lumentum (LITE). Coherent rose 2.1% premarket, while II-VI fell 1.6% and Lumentum rose 1%.

WATERCOOLER

Netflix (NFLX), which has never made a big deal about password sharing, is testing a new policy that prompts some users to sign up for a separate account if they're not watching with the subscriber. About 33% of all Netflix users share their password with at least one other person, according to research firm Magid. (CNBC)