Wednesday, February 21, 2018
What to watch today
Markets will look to bounce back on Wednesday after a disappointing start to a holiday-shortened week. Walmart (WMT) shares got smoked on Tuesday, falling 10% and weighing on the Dow as the blue-chip index fell over 1%, losing 254 points. The benchmark S&P 500 lost 0.6% while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was just barely in the red, falling 0.07%.
On Wednesday, investors will have a calmer earnings calendar but some economic news to digest, with the minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting due out at 2:00 p.m. ET, while the January reading on existing home sales and the initial looks at service sector and manufacturing activity in February due out in the morning.
Trump orders ban of ‘bump stocks’ after Florida shooting: President Donald Trump directed the Justice Department to write regulations banning the use of accessories known as “bump stocks” that allow semiautomatic rifles to be fired more rapidly, and his press secretary declined to rule out supporting restrictions on the purchase of AR-15-style rifles like the one used in a Florida school shooting last week. [Bloomberg]
Qualcomm raises bid for NXP: U.S. semiconductor company Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) on Tuesday unveiled a sweetened $44 billion agreement to acquire NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI), its most defiant move in its defense against a hostile $121 billion bid from Broadcom Ltd. (AVGO). [Reuters]
Health care costs are going to sting more: The amount of money Americans spend on health care is likely to rise by about 5.5% per year for the next several years, according to new government projections on health spending through 2026. Spending on health will most likely rise by considerably more than inflation or GDP growth, which means it will increasingly strain both the federal budget and the personal finances of millions of Americans. [Yahoo Finance]
US floods market with $179 billion of debt in just one day: The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday sold $179 billion of securities as it works to rebuild its cash balance, with yields at its auctions of three-month and six-month debt rising to levels unseen since 2008. [Bloomberg]
Apple in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners: Apple Inc. (AAPL) is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom. The iPhone maker is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries. [Bloomberg]
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