Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow set to rise after Friday's record close



U.S. stock futures mixed Monday as the 10-year Treasury yield held at elevated levels. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed at record highs Friday. The Nasdaq fell modestly as recently slumping tech stocks continued to fight rising bond yields. However, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all posted strong weekly gains. Ahead of Monday's open, the Nasdaq was up more than 3.3% for the year. The Dow and S&P 500 were up 7% and almost 5%, respectively in 2021. (CNBC)

Bitcoin dropped 6% on Monday, after jumping Saturday to another all-time high; this time above $60,000. The world's biggest cryptocurrency has just about doubled this year. It's soared more than 1,000% over the past 12 months. Bitcoin's market value climbed back above $1 trillion last week. The incredible rally has been driven by increased adoption by larger institutional investors and firms as well as speculative demand. (Reuters)

While the 10-year Treasury yield was actually a bit lower Monday morning, it was only slightly below its more than one-year high of 1.642% on Friday. The rapid rise in yields this year has traders wondering whether the Federal Reserve may be losing control of the direction of interest rates. The Fed's two-day March meeting begins Tuesday, with questions about how long near-zero rates and extraordinarily easy Covid monetary policy can last. (CNBC)

The Fed is expected to forecast better economic growth after President Joe Biden last week signed the $1.9 trillion package of fiscal measures designed to help Americans, U.S. businesses and state and local governments dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hit the road this week to sell the Covid stimulus plan, which includes up to $1,400 in direct payments to many people. (AP)

* Biden expected to name Gene Sperling to lead Covid relief plan implementation (Reuters)
* Yellen says Biden administration undecided on wealth tax (WSJ)\


White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning state leaders that the nation's battle with the coronavirus is still "not in the end zone." He urged Americans to adhere to public health measures despite the ramp-up of vaccinations, pointing to new infection spikes in Europe as a cautionary tale of relaxing too soon. As of Sunday night, the CDC reported that nearly 37.5 million people in the U.S. were fully vaccinated; more than 11% of the nation's population of over 330 million. (CNBC)

* Dr. Scott Gottlieb: U.S. better on Covid vaccines, European-like surge unlikely (CNBC)

Ireland became the latest country to suspend the use of AstraZeneca's (AZN) Covid-19 vaccine, following reports out of Norway regarding blood clots in some patients. Officials said they took the action "out of an abundance of caution," although AstraZeneca said its review of more than 17 million people showed no increased risk of blood clots. (CNBC)

* Germany declares start of Covid ‘third wave’; Italy set for Easter lockdown (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) officially gave CEO Elon Musk the additional title of "Technoking of Tesla," a new regulatory filing reveals. Musk will retain his position as chief executive officer, Tesla said Monday. Zach Kirkhorn, the CFO of Tesla, has also been given a new title of "Master of Coin." (CNBC)

Online payments technology provider Stripe announced Sunday it raised a new $600 million round of funding that values the company at $95 billion, nearly triple its last reported valuation of $36 billion from April 2020, according to PitchBook data. (CNBC)


NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), Penn National Gaming (PENN), Generac (GNRC) and, Caesars (CZR) will join the S&P 500 as part of the index's quarterly rebalancing. NXP jumped 8.1% in premarket trading, with Penn up 5.8%, Generac gaining 3.6% and Caesars climbing 4.8%.

GenMark Diagnostics (GNMK): GenMark will be bought by Swiss drugmaker Roche for $1.8 billion in cash, or $24.05 per share. Shares of the U.S.-based molecular diagnostic test maker had closed at $18.50 per share on Friday. GenMark surged 29.2% in premarket action.

Gilead Sciences (GILD), Merck (MRK): The drugmakers will study a combination of their experimental drugs to treat HIV. Gilead and Merck will look at the effectiveness of the drug cocktail even when taken only every few months.

Eli Lilly (LLY): Eli Lilly said its experimental treatment for Alzheimer's modestly slowed decline in patients over an 18-month period in a mid-stage study. Lilly has already begun a second study of the treatment. Lilly fell 5.3% in the premarket.

AMC Entertainment (AMC): AMC will begin reopening movie theaters in Los Angeles, starting with two locations today. It plans to open the remaining 23 theaters in Los Angeles on Friday, and hopes to have all 56 California locations open by then depending on local approvals. AMC jumped 8.7% in premarket trade.

Carnival (CCL): Carnival CEO Arnold Donald told the Financial Times he sees at least two more tough years for the cruise industry. Donald said the cruise line operator's full fleet might be sailing by the end of the year but that it will take at least until 2023 for revenue to return to pre-Covid levels. Carnival rose 1.2% in the premarket.

United Airlines (UAL), American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Airline stocks are gaining ground after the Transportation Safety Administration said airport screening levels are now at one-year highs. Separately, Southwest said passenger demand is continuing to improve this month. United was up 3% in the premarket, American gained 4.3%, Delta rose 2% and Southwest edged up 1.3%.

Shaw Communications (SJR): The Canadian communications company agreed to be bought by rival Rogers Communications for nearly $21 billion, including debt. Shaw's U.S. shares surged 53% in the premarket.

Ford Motor (F): Ford will recall 2.9 million vehicles to check for potentially faulty driver-side Takata airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had called on Ford to do so in January, and the automaker plans to begin notifying owners on April 1.

Lordstown Motors (RIDE): Lordstown said it will issue a "full and thorough" statement in the coming days that the electric truck maker said would refute a critical report by short-seller Hindenburg Research. Lordstown has said the report contains "half-truths and lies." Its shares rose 5.9% in premarket trading.

XPeng (XPEV): XPeng got a $76.8 million investment from the provincial government in Guangdong, where the Chinese electric vehicle maker is based and has two manufacturing plants. XPeng added 4.2% in premarket action.

DraftKings (DKNG): The sports betting company announced a proposed offering of $1 billion in convertible notes due in 2028. DraftKings fell 3.5% in premarket trade.


David Fincher's "Mank" led nominations to the 93rd Academy Awards with 10 nods Monday, and for the first time, two women, Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell, were nominated for best director. The film academy confirmed Monday that the show will be held at both its usual home in the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and the city's railway hub, Union Station. (AP)

Four women Sunday night won the top four prizes at the Grammy Awards, including Taylor Swift, who became the first female performer to win album of the year three times. Beyonce, with 28 career wins, become the most decorated woman in Grammy history. (AP)