New Highs for Stocks, Again

Baby, baby, baby oohh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh
Thought you'd always be mine, mine

- Justin Bieber

Market Musings with CNBC Market Master Robert Hum

Recap: Dow 33.25 ( 0.23%) at 14,329.49, S&P 2.80 ( 0.18%) at 1,544.26, Nasdaq 9.72 ( 0.30%) at 3,232.09

Major indices close at new highs ahead of Friday's February jobs report

Dow has 3rd straight record close

S&P 500 closes at a 5.5-year high, Nasdaq closes at a 12-year high, Russell 2000 closes at a record high

Major averages trade in narrow range today, while Dow & S&P 500 close up for 5th straight day

S&P 500, Nasdaq on pace for 2nd best weekly gain this year

Quick Hits

Brennan receives enough votes to be confirmed CIA director

H&R Block misses ests., posts bigger loss than expected

Pandora jumps after beating ests. good rev. outlook

Texas Instruments raises low end of prior guidance

Skullcandy drops after warning of a Q1 loss

Icahn raises Herbalife stake to 15.55%

KKR to buy Gardner Denver for $76/share – DJ

CDW IPO coming later this year - Reuters

The Word on the Street

Pandora Revenue Climbs 54%; CEO to Step Down/WSJ: "Pandora Media Inc. posted a 54% jump in revenue as the Internet radio company provided evidence that cost increases are slowing. It also announced its chief executive will be stepping down. Shares of the company, which posted results after the close of trading Thursday, soared more than 20% after-hours."

US Economy Is Clear for Takeoff: BlackRock's Fink/CNBC – Justin Menza: "The U.S. economy is ready to take off, BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink said Thursday, citing the health of the banks and the nation's energy resources. "Our banks are the best capitalized institutions in the world," Fink said on CNBC's "Closing Bell". "The problem for banks going forward is not capital, the problem for banks going forward is making sure they originate enough loans."

JC Penney Delays Stocking Some Martha Stewart Products/Ad Age: "…Today, Justice Oing spent most of the afternoon in conference with the three legal teams and also had calls with Martha Stewart and Mr. Lundgren. At the end of those meetings JC Penney agreed to hold off stocking their shelves with any Martha Stewart items--branded or not--in the exclusive product categories. That doesn't mean, however, that Martha Stewart won't be in JC Penney. The company's website is promoting the launch of her branded products online in March and in stores in April. But those products fall in the celebration, pantry and window categories, all of which are non-exclusive to Macy's. Until April 8, Macy's, JC Penney and MSLO will enter mediation with the goal of settling at least some of their issues. If no agreement can be made in the next month, the trial will start up

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Near Bottom of Stress Tests/CNBC - John Carney: "Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may face resistance from regulators if they attempt to significantly increase their dividends or share buybacks this year. The Federal Reserve estimates that in a stress scenario, the Tier One common ratio, the ratio of common equity to overall assets, for both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley could come very close to the five-percent minimum required for banks to pay dividends or engage in buybacks. Goldman's Tier One common ratio, which stood at 13.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012, could drop as low as 5.8 percent in stress scenario in 2014. Morgan Stanley's Tier One common ratio stood at 13.9 percent in the third quarter of 2012. The Fed estimates that it could fall as low as 5.7 percent in a stressed scenario."

Firms Send Record Cash Back to Investors/WSJ: "U.S. companies are showering investors with a record windfall in the form of dividends and share buybacks, helping to propel the stock market's rally. Companies in the S&P 500 index are expected to pay at least $300 billion in dividends in 2013, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, which would top last year's record of $282 billion. Analysts say this year's number could go even higher. Apple Inc., for example, stands to pay out about $10 billion this year in a dividend policy initiated last year. Exxon Mobil Corp. and AT&T Inc. are each also set to pay dividends around $10 billion. American corporations also announced plans to buy back $117.8 billion of their own shares in February, the highest monthly total in records dating back to 1985, according to Birinyi Associates Inc. a Westport, Conn.-based market research firm. Home Depot Inc., General Electric Co and PepsiCo Inc. are among a number of large companies that announced plans last month to scoop up large amounts of their own shares."

What Advertisers are Plotting for the New Facebook News Feed/Biz Insider: "Advertisers reacted mostly with optimism today about the way Facebook intends to redesign the News Feed. … Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt and his team told investors: Advertisers may benefit as more screen real estate will become available for News Feed, allowing in-stream ads to become larger and more engaging, similar to high-CPM "takeover" ads on other websites. Making feeds more consistent and content-specific should improve the News Feed experience, which could make users more tolerant of ads, enable new formats (e.g., video), boost ad loads, and allow content targeting. ... Ads that mimic organic posts could perform even better with the additional screen real estate"

Moon Mining Race Underway/BBC: "Google has offered a $20m grand prize to the first privately-funded company to land a robot on the moon and explore the surface by moving at least 500 metres and send high definition video back to Earth by 2015. A second-placed team stands to win $5m for completing the same mission, with bonus prizes for travelling more than 5km, finding water and discovering any traces of man's past on the moon, such as the Apollo site."

Jack Welch on Apple: 'I'd Give Einhorn the Back of My Hand'/Matt Twomey: "Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch says Apple deserves better than the treatment it's getting from David Einhorn, the hedge-fund manager pressuring the iPhone maker to cough up dividends. "Look, these guys are after a quick hit. I'd blow him off," he told CNBC's "Closing Bell." "I'd give Einhorn the back of my hand. Welch said he had the same kind of problem with activist investors while heading GE. "They'd come after us, 'What are you going to do with all that cash?' Well, we're going to do a smart thing! Trust us!" Welch said. Apple is in a vicious technology war with rivals big and small, and Welch said he thinks CEO Tim Cook should be given the space to run the company. "He's got Samsung and everyone nipping at his heels. And he risks running, rather than a sexy company, a commodities company." He said Apple needs to have the cash and the flexibility to move on an acquisition in a turbulent market. "Apple deserves, after all they've done, a chance to deliver on all their promises," he said."