Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Stocks set to drop as Russia-Ukraine situation gets muddy again
- Walmart rises after upbeat earnings, dividend hike, buyback
- Cisco jumps, Nvidia falls, DoorDash surges following quarterly results
- There are new signs of Covid moving out of pandemic stage
- NATO accuses Russia of putting out Ukraine 'disinformation'
U.S. stock futures dropped Thursday as NATO accused Russia of adding forces at the Ukraine border not reducing them. Wall Street was also digesting strong earnings from two Dow stocks and mixed economic reports.
- In a volatile session Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq dipped and the S&P 500 inched higher. The three stock benchmarks cut some losses when the minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting didn't signal any plan to hike interest rates faster than already expected.
- Before the bell Thursday, weekly initial jobless claims rose unexpectedly, January housing starts came below in estimates while permits beat, and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index for February was light. After the data, the 10-year Treasury yield dipped under 2%.
Walmart topped quarterly estimates on earnings and revenue Thursday after shoppers turned to the retailer for groceries and gifts over the holidays. Walmart said it's focused on value as some customers grow nervous about rising inflation. The company said it's on track to hit its long-term growth targets, which called for adjusted earnings per share growth in the mid-single digits. Dow stock Walmart rose roughly 2% in the premarket after the release. Walmart said it raised its dividend by a penny to 56 cents per share, and plans to repurchase $10 billion worth of stock in the current fiscal year.
Cisco Systems, also a Dow component, rose roughly 3% in Thursday's premarket, the morning after the networking equipment and software maker reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat estimates. The company also issued upbeat full-year guidance.
Nvidia fell around 2.5% in the premarket after issuing late Wednesday a strong outlook that failed to impress an investor base accustomed to rosy guidance from the graphics processor giant. However, the company did report better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue.
DoorDash surged about 22% in Thursday's premarket, the morning after it issued upbeat forward guidance along with a 69% jump in full-year revenue. For the quarter, revenue was also a slight beat. DoorDash's per-share quarterly loss, however, was wider than expected.
California officials are set to unveil Thursday a plan for coexisting with Covid, entering the endemic stage when a virus still exists in the community but becomes manageable as immunity builds. In fact, one influential model estimates that 73% of Americans are, for now, immune to omicron, the dominant variant, and that could rise to 80% by mid-March. Shifting its focus to Covid hospitalizations as a key measure of the severity of the outbreak and future recommendations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it's reviewing its mask guidance.
NATO allies accused Russia of misleading the world and disseminating "disinformation" by saying it was returning some troops to bases, charging Moscow has instead added as many as 7,000 more troops near its tense border with Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine has denied claims by Russian state-controlled media that it launched shells in eastern Ukraine, and accused Moscow-backed rebels of attacking a village in the region. The two countries currently have a cease-fire agreement in place.