Business

What to Watch Today: Wall Street Looks Steady After Two Days of Fed-Driven Selling

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were relatively steady Thursday, as Wall Street tried to avoid a three-session losing streak. The Nasdaq led the selling over the past two days as the Fed started to strike a more hawkish tone — sinking 2.2% on Wednesday, a day after about a 2.3% drop. (CNBC)

After a number of Fed officials called for more aggressive tightening to fight inflation, the central bank's minutes from its March meeting indicated general agreement to shrink its massive balance sheet by $95 billion per month. The minutes also showed Fed officials were considering larger-than-usual rate hikes of 50 basis points after a 25 basis point raise last month, the first increase in more than three years. (CNBC)

Bond yields rose Thursday after the government reported fewer-than-expected 166,000 weekly initial jobless claims. The 10-year Treasury yield was trading around three-year highs above 2.6% and was no longer inverted lower than the 2-year yield. However, the 5-year Treasury yield remained inverted, still higher than the 30-year yield. (CNBC)

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in remarks prepared for a Thursday speech that more government regulation is needed to police the proliferation of cryptocurrency and other digital assets and to ward off fraudulent and illicit transactions. (AP)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway BRK.a) has initiated a major stake in tech hardware stock HP Inc., becoming the largest shareholder in the PC and printer maker. Berkshire purchased nearly 121 million shares of HP, roughly 11%, according to securities filings, a stake that was worth roughly $4.2 billion based HP's closing stock price Wednesday. That's before a 15% jump in HP shares in Thursday's premarket. (CNBC)

Shell said Thursday it will write off between $4 billion and $5 billion after pulling out of Russia. The announcement offers a first glimpse at the potential financial impact to Western oil giants that exited Russia following Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Further details of the impact of ongoing developments in Ukraine will come in Shell's first-quarter earnings report on May 5. (CNBC)

* EU not expected to fully ban Russian coal imports until August, sources say (CNBC)
* UK targets more nuclear, wind power and fossil fuels in bid for energy security (CNBC)

Ukraine on Thursday appealed to NATO for more weapons in its fight against Russia to help prevent further atrocities like those reported in Bucha, just outside of Kyiv. Meanwhile, Russian forces, which failed to quickly take Ukraine's capital, are regrouping for an offensive in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow early in its incursion recognized the Luhansk and Donetsk areas as independent states. (AP)

Tesla (TSLA) is slated to open its new Texas auto assembly plant in the Austin area Thursday, less than a month after inaugurating a similar factory in Germany. The ribbon-cutting event, dubbed the "Cyber Rodeo," is a homecoming of sorts for Tesla, which moved its headquarters to the Austin area last year from Palo Alto, Calif. (WSJ)

* CNBC video: Ron Baron on Tesla: We expect to make up to five times our money over next decade
* 'It's meaningless' — Ron Baron reacts to Elon Musk joining Twitter's board (CNBC)

General Motors (GM) expects sales of its electric Chevrolet Bolt models can rebound from a high-profile recall after several vehicles caught fire to achieve record results in 2022. The automaker restarted production and shipments of the Bolt EV and a larger so-called EUV version this week following a recall-related production shutdown. (CNBC)

Federal securities regulators are investigating how Amazon (AMZN) has disclosed some details of its business practices, including how it uses third-party-seller data for its private-label business, The Wall Street Journal reports.

* Tencent shuts down rival to Amazon's Twitch after China blocks key gaming merger (CNBC)
* Billionaire founder of JD.com steps down as CEO as Beijing's crackdown continues (CNBC)

Leading U.S. scientists and physicians worry that the FDA and CDC are moving too fast in approving a fourth round of Covid shots, with little public debate that gives the vaccine makers too big a role in setting the pace with which the doses are distributed across the nation. The top U.S. public health agencies last week endorsed a fourth Covid shot for older adults without holding public meetings. (CNBC)

* Covid spending bill stalls in Senate as Republican, Democrats hit an impasse (AP)

The Senate on Thursday is expected to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, securing her place as the first Black woman on the high court. Giving President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his historic pick, three Republican senators have said they will support Jackson, who would replace the retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer on the conservative-dominated high court. (AP)

STOCKS TO WATCH

SoFi Technologies (SOFI) fell 5% in the premarket after cutting its full-year outlook. The cut follows the White House announcing a student loan payment moratorium will be extended.

Conagra (CAG) tumbled 5.5% in the premarket after issuing a weaker-than-expected forecast for the fiscal year ending in May. The food producer's results are being hit by higher transportation and raw materials costs.

Levi Strauss (LEVI) beat estimates by 4 cents with an adjusted quarterly profit of 46 cents per share, and the apparel maker's revenue also topped Wall Street forecasts. The company saw strong demand for its jeans, tops and jackets while successfully raising prices and cutting down promotions. Levi Strauss rose 3% in premarket trading.

Rite Aid (RAD) tumbled 18% in premarket action after Deutsche Bank downgraded the drugstore operator to "sell" from "hold." Deutsche Bank said Covid hastened the decline of the retail pharmacy segment, and there's a possibility that Rite Aid may not be able to generate enough earnings to continue as an operating company.

Wayfair (W) slid 4.1% in the premarket after Wells Fargo downgraded the stock to "underweight" from "equal weight." Wells Fargo said the high-end furniture retailer will be hurt by waning demand, overly optimistic consensus estimates and other headwinds.

Rent the Runway (RENT) jumped roughly 4% in the premarket after the fashion rental company announced a price hike for its subscribers.

Provider of automotive retail technology CDK Global (CDK) agreed to be bought by Brookfield Business Partners for $54.87 per share in cash. The price represents a 12% premium over CDK's Wednesday closing price.

WATERCOOLER

Tiger Woods' 91st competitive round at the Masters will start like all the rest Thursday morning. What happens when Woods puts his driver back into his bag will determine whether his surgically rebuilt right leg is ready for a test unlike any other he's faced in his career. (AP)

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