Stocks were pointing higher in early trading Wednesday after some conflicting reports about whether Russia and Ukraine agreed to a permanent ceasefire. On one hand, the Ukrainian president's office said President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. But on the other hand, a Kremlin spokesman said the two only discussed steps to facilitate a ceasefire. Stocks kicked off September in a bit of slump after a strong performance in August.
The Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) ended the day lower Tuesday, while the Nasdaq (^IXIC) managed to end the day in positive territory. Investors will be looking for more clarity on the situation in the Ukraine and mulling over a fresh batch of economic data this morning, starting with auto sales. Thursday, ADP will report on private-sector jobs, ahead of Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department.
New Bank Rules
The Federal Reserve and the FDIC will vote today on the first round of new rules for banks. The rules to be voted on today would require banks to hold "safe assets" at least equal to the amount of cash each firm spends in a 30-day period. The rules are an effort to prevent another financial crisis, but they will also have the effect of lowering banks' profitability.
“What it does mean is [a] less profitable banking sector,” says Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli. “I do think it’s going to be a little more of a muted economic sector versus the past."
Stocks to watch
Among the stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching for you today: Toll Brothers (TOL) shares were up slightly in early trading. The homebuilder reported earnings and revenue that beat analysts' estimates. Profit more than doubled from a year earlier and revenue soared more than 53% as the company sold more homes at higher prices.
Shares of Netflix (NFLX) also on investors’ watch list this morning. The online video-streaming service is adding another TV series to its growing list of programming. Netflix has reached a global licensing deal with Time Warner's (TWX) Warner Brothers for the exclusive rights to the new TV drama "Gotham." The show will premier on Fox in a couple of weeks and will be available on Netflix in 2015. This comes after Netflix won the streaming rights to NBC's drama "The Blacklist" just last month.
Infinity Pharmaceuticals (INFI) shares soared in early trading after the drug firm said it will partner with AbbVie (ABBV) for development and marketing of its experimental blood cancer treatment. Under terms of the agreement, AbbVie will pay Infinity $275 million dollars upfront for worldwide licensing rights for its oral blood cancer drug.
CVS (CVS) is changing its corporate name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health and dropping tobacco products as of October 1st, a month earlier than previously announced. Losing the tobacco products will cost $2 billion dollars, but the company sees upside to the move.
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