Stock futures were mixed in early trading after three straight days of selling. Tech shares continue to struggle. In the last three sessions, the Nasdaq (^IXIC) has seen its biggest three-day drop since August 2011. The slide in the markets comes just as earnings season is getting under way. The unofficial start to the season is after the bell today, when industrial bellwether, Aluminum-maker Alcoa (AA) reports quarterly results. Later this week, bank earnings will begin with J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Citigroup (C) is already warning it will miss broad profitability targets after the Federal Reserve rejected its stock buyback plan, that according to the Wall Street Journal. So is the selling just traders positioning for earnings season or is something else at work? In the associated video, Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli and Lauren Lyster discuss what’s behind the recent sell-off.
The Senate passed a bill that would restore jobless benefits for long-term unemployed, but the bill faces stiff opposition in the House. The measure passed by a bipartisan vote of 59 to 38 in the Senate and would give benefits to the 2.8 million eligible Americans who have been unemployed for longer than 26 weeks. The bill will have a tough time passing in the House, where Republican leaders say they want provisions for job creation in the bill.
Meanwhile, Americans owe a little less in credit card debt, according to the Federal Reserve's latest report. While overall consumer credit rose to $3.13 trillion in February, revolving credit, which includes credit card debt, declined 3.4% for the month. That may be an indication of some caution among consumers as the economy continues a slow recovery process.
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Among some of the stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching today: Google (GOOGL). The company reportedly is in early talks to buy Skybox Imaging, a satellite-imagery startup. Google also reportedly expressed interest in drone-maker Titan Aerospace, the same company Facebook (FB) was said to be in talks with. Separately, Google appears to be expanding its online hotel-booking business. According to Bloomberg, Google has licensed hotel-booking software from startup Room 77 in an apparent bid to expand its travel business, taking on Priceline (PCLN), Expedia (EXPE) and Orbitz (OWW).
It’s round two of the fast-food fight between Taco Bell (YUM) and McDonald's (MCD). Taco Bell is releasing another commercial that makes McDonald's the butt of a joke in its new campaign to promote its breakfast menu. This follows the first Taco Bell ad which featured Taco Bell customers named Ronald McDonald. The campaign is winning a lot of attention for Taco Bell, but is it winning any of McDonald’s marketshare?
And Chick-Fil-A is rolling out a new, healthier menu as it targets a younger audience and tries to craft a new image for its CEO Dan Cathy, after a well-publicized controversy over his comments on gay marriage drew a backlash in 2012. In an exclusive with USA Today, Cathy is taking a more conciliatory tone on the issue, telling the paper “all of us become more wise as time goes by.” The company also said it will reveal a new grilled chicken recipe that it has been working on for years. Santoli and Lyster dig into the fast food wars in today’s Hot Stock Minute.