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Morning Brief: Walmart will stop selling firearms to people under age 21

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What to watch today

On Thursday, the economic schedule will be busy once again with readings on personal income, spending, inflation, initial jobless claims, manufacturing activity, construction spending, and auto sales all set for release.

Auto sales, which are expected to roll in throughout the day, will be in focus as the auto industry looks to find its footing as vehicle sales fell in 2017 for the first time since the financial crisis. Economists expect the annualized rate of sales in February to hit 17.2 million cars, up from 17.07 in January.

And on the earnings side, Thursday will be retail-heavy with highlights expected from Kohl’s (KSS), Best Buy (BBY), Nordstrom (JWN), Gap (GPS), and gunmaker American Outdoor Brands (AOBC).

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Top news

Walmart sets age of 21 to buy firearms, ammunition: Walmart (WMT) announced Wednesday that it will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21 and would also remove items resembling assault-style rifles from its website. The move comes after Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) announced earlier in the day that it would restrict the sale of firearms to those under 21 years old. It didn’t mention ammunition. [AP]

SEC launches cryptocurrency probe: The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued dozens of subpoenas and information requests to technology companies and advisers involved in the red-hot market for cryptocurrencies, according to people familiar with the matter. The sweeping probe significantly ratchets up the regulatory pressure on the multibillion-dollar U.S. market for raising funds in cryptocurrencies. [The Wall Street Journal]

Spotify’s unusual IPO seeks to drum up fans on Wall Street: Spotify is pursuing an unusual initial public offering that will sell some of its existing stock instead of issuing more shares to raise money. The strategy will make it easier for Spotify’s existing stockholders to cash out of their investments while creating a potential new financial channel for the company. Spotify indicated $1 billion worth of stock will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, although the amount is likely to be much higher, based on information contained in documents released Wednesday. [AP]

Ackman ends public battle with Herbalife, takes stake in United Technologies:  Six years ago, billionaire investor William Ackman wagered $1 billion that Herbalife’s stock price would tumble to zero after publicly calling the nutrition company a fraud in a three-hour presentation before investors, analysts and the media. On Wednesday there was little fanfare when the hedge fund manager let slip to a cable news reporter that his Pershing Square Capital Management was no longer betting against Herbalife (HLF). Now, Ackman is building a position in aircraft parts maker United Technologies Corp. (UTX), whose shares rose as much as 3.4% to $138.49. [Reuters]

F or more of the latest news, go to Yahoo Finance

Freezing weather conditions dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ bring snow and sub-zero temperatures to the UK. Amber warnings are in place in northern England, the East Midlands, London, the east and south-east of England. Scotland’s weather warning has been upgraded to red, which means risk to life, widespread damage, travel and power disruption are likely. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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The Morning Brief provides a quick rundown on what to watch in the markets, top news stories, and the best of Yahoo Finance Originals.