US equity index futures traded flat ahead of Wednesday’s open, as investors awaited a key decision on interest rates from the Federal Reserve.
The Fed will announce its latest interest rate decision at 2:00pm EST, with Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference following soon after, at 2:30pm EST.
Leading up to the statement, investors anticipate no change in the key policy rate, which currently sits in the range of 2.25% to 2.50%, but rather a signal of near-term slower increases, following four rate hikes in 2018, which critics say has contributed to economic turbulence.
US stocks closed flat yesterday, erasing their early gains, as investors fretted that trade talks with Beijing may have reached an impasse.
The S&P 500’s declines were triggered by a midday Bloomberg article which had highlighted concerns amongst US officials that China is pushing back against American demands.
Wall Street’s benchmark index was up as much as +0.6%, prior to mid-day trading, but closed flat, up +0.02%.
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell -0.04%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained +0.34% into the close.
In the economic calendar, aside from the Fed’s Interest Rate Decision, Wednesday includes Oil Inventory data, for the week ended March 15, at 10:30am.
In today’s earnings, reports are scheduled from; Micron Technology (MU), General Mills (GIS), Guess (GES) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM).
TODAY’S TOP HEADLINES:
Brexit: UK Won’t Seek Long Brexit Extension (The WSJ)
The UK government is set to ask the European Union for a short Brexit delay, a British government official said, suggesting that a request would likely be for an extension of months, rather than a year.
Today’s Economical Announcements
10:30AM – ★★★ – Crude Oil Inventories (Previous: -3.862M)
02:30PM – ★★★ – FOMC Statement
02:30PM – ★★★ – FOMC Press Conference
STOCKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
Pre-Market Movers & News Related Stocks
FedEx (FDX): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of $3.03 per share, missing consensus estimates by 8 cents a share. Revenue fell below forecasts as well, and FedEx also cut its full-year outlook for the second quarter in a row, citing a slowing global economy.
Smartsheet (SMAR): [EARNINGS] Reported an adjusted quarterly loss of 7 cents per share, smaller than the 14 cents a share loss expected by analysts. Revenue above estimates, although it is forecasting a larger-than-expected loss for the current quarter and the full year.
Steelcase (SCS): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of 29 cents per share, beating consensus estimates by 2 cents a share. Revenue above forecasts, helped in part by higher prices.
Tencent Music (TME): [EARNINGS] Issued its first earnings report as a public company, with the Chinese music streaming company beating Wall Street estimates on both the top and bottom lines. Shares are being pressured, however, by concerns over the company’s soaring license and content production costs.
Sage Therapeutics (SAGE): [NEWS] The drugmaker received FDA approval for its Zulresso drug, the first specifically designed to treat women with postpartum depression.
General Mills (GIS): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of 83 cents per share, beating the consensus estimate of 69 cents a share. Revenue above forecasts and General Mills issued an improved full-year outlook.
Monster Beverage (MNST): [DOWNGRADE] Downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” at Goldman Sachs, which also removed the energy drink maker’s stock from its “Conviction Buy” list. Goldman thinks the company’s near-term U.S. sales could be softer than expected.
Viacom (VIAB): [NEWS] Viacom said it had begun warning customers of AT&T’s DirecTV unit that they may lose channels such as MTV and Nickelodeon if the two sides can’t agree on a new contract by a Friday deadline.
Dollar Tree (DLTR): [UPGRADE] Upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” at Telsey Advisory Group following a meeting with management. Telsey said the meeting provided clarity on the discount retailer’s plans to improve its results.
Alphabet (GOOGL): [NEWS] The European Union fined Google $1.7 billion for abusing the dominance of its search engine, in the last of three cases against the Alphabet unit. Google will not have to take any actions related to the fine because it has already changed the practices that resulted in the original charges.
Nexstar (NXST): [NEWS] Nexstar will sell a total of 19 TV stations for $1.32 billion, 11 to Tegna and eight to Scripps. The divestitures follow the acquisition of Tribune Media by Nexstar, which said it is in talks to sell two more stations in Indianapolis.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): [NEWS] Received a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter saying the company had not complied with post-approval study requirements for their breast implant products. The FDA said failure to correct the violations could result in withdrawal of approval.
Sientra (SIEN): [NEWS] Received a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter saying the company had not complied with post-approval study requirements for their breast implant products. The FDA said failure to correct the violations could result in withdrawal of approval.
GAINERS: AXSM, AMD, TERP, IRDM, MDB
LOSERS: DSW, ESPR, RCII, SNDR, MNST, HDS, HEAR
Insurance Acquisition (ILSUU) (Price: 10) (Shares: 13M)
UP Fintech Holding Limited (TIGR) (Low: 5, High: 7) (Shares: 13M)