Morning Brief

What to watch today: Stock futures drop after new sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine


U.S. stock futures fell Monday, but traded off earlier lows on the last day of February, after the Biden administration announced additional sanctions against Russia's central bank over Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. On Saturday, the U.S., European allies and Canada agreed to cut off key Russian banks from the interbank SWIFT messaging system. (CNBC)

Wall Street mounted a strong rally Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average having its best day since November 2020. In a week of wild swings in the market, the Dow closed down slightly as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished higher. Defense stocks surged in Monday's premarket trading.(CNBC)

Oil prices climbed Monday, but traded off earlier higher, after the SWIFT banking prohibition prompted fears that energy supplies could be indirectly affected. British energy giant BP announced Sunday it's offloading its 19.75% stake in Rosneft, a Russian-controlled oil company. Russia is a key oil and natural gas supplier, especially to Europe. (CNBC)

* HSBC to wind down relations with Russia's second-largest bank, others (Reuters)


Monday's new actions by the White House effectively prohibit Americans from doing any business with the Russian central bank as well as freezes its assets within the United States. The weekend's coordinated move to block Russian banks from SWIFT, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, means they won't be able to communicate securely with banks beyond their borders. (CNBC)

Facing mounting international sanctions, Russia's currency, the ruble, crashed 30% on Monday. The Russian central bank raised its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% on Monday in an emergency move aimed at stemming the slide in the ruble. The Russian stock market was ordered closed Monday. The Russian stocks ETF tanked 23% in the premarket. (CNBC)

The economic fallout in Russia came as fighting in Ukraine showed no signs of abating and following Russian President Vladimir Putin putting nuclear forces put on high alert. Ukraine began talks near Belarus' border Monday with Russia in hopes of reaching a cease-fire. (AP)

The U.S. State Department on Monday suspended operations at its embassy in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, and approved the voluntary departure of non-emergency members and their families. The agency also allowed departures from its embassy in Moscow, Russia. (CNBC)

The Supreme Court on Monday will consider how much power the Environmental Protection Agency has to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, one of the most important cases of a term already loaded with blockbuster issues. (NBC News)

New York City will lift its Covid vaccination mandate for indoor businesses, dining and events in the coming days. Schools will also see the indoor mask mandate lifted, provided no unexpected spikes arise. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had already allowed the statewide mask policy to expire. (NBC News)

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) reported record annual profit in 2021, helped in large part by its investment in Apple (AAPL). Berkshire also bought back a record $27 billion in stock last year, but the pace of buybacks slowed during the fourth quarter. Berkshire Class "B" shares fell 1% in the premarket. (CNBC)


First Horizon (FHN) shares surged 32.3% in premarket trading after the bank agreed to be acquired by Toronto-Dominion (TD) in an all-cash deal worth $25 per share or $13.4 billion. The move will help Toronto-Dominion expand its presence in the southeastern part of the U.S.

Renewable Energy (REGI) agreed to be acquired by Chevron (CVX) for $61.50 per share, compared to the Friday close of $43.81. Renewable Energy shares soared 36.5% in the premarket.

Workers at a Starbucks (SBUX) cafe in Mesa, Arizona voted to unionize, becoming the third Starbucks location in the U.S. to do so. Starbucks slid 1% in premarket action.

Zendesk (ZEN) ended its deal to buy SurveyMonkey parent Momentive Global (MNTV) after Zendesk shareholders rejected the proposed transaction on Friday. Momentive slid 2.4% in premarket action while Zendesk rose 0.4%.

Healthcare Trust of America (HTA) agreed to combine with rival Healthcare Realty (HR) in a deal with an implied value of $35.08 per share. The health-care-centered REIT slid 5% in the premarket. Healthcare Realty tumbled 9.2%.

PulteGroup (PHM) and Toll Brothers (TOL) received double upgrades to "buy" from "underperform" at Bank of America Securities. The firm notes underperformance by home builders in 2022 despite strong earnings and guidance and feels the risk/reward profile is now favorable. Both stocks rose in the premarket.

Nielsen (NLSN), best known for T.V. ratings saw its stock rally 7.6% in the premarket after reporting adjusted quarterly earnings of 46 cents per share, 10 cents above estimates, and also issuing an upbeat full-year forecast. The company also announced a $1 billion share repurchase program.