Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Stocks set to open flat after Dow closes at another record
- Bitcoin soars to new high, topping $51,000 for first time
- Here are Warren Buffett-run Berkshire's stock moves last quarter
- Elon Musk's SpaceX valuation jumps to about $74 billion
- Millions in Texas still without power as new storm hits
1. Stocks set to open flat after Dow closes at another record
U.S. stock futures were steady Wednesday as Wall Street remained on track for its best monthly performance since November. A mixed session Tuesday saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average close at another record. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq broke their two-day winning streaks with small losses, falling from previous session record high closes.
On Wednesday's economic calendar, the Commerce Department's January retail sales report showed a 5.3% increase, blowing away estimates for a 1.2% advance. One month after Congress approved a $900 billion additional Covid stimulus package on top of the $2.2 trillion approved earlier in 2020, shoppers were armed with $600 checks that they used to buy a variety of goods.
Separately, the Labor Department's January producer prices index rose 1.3%, again much higher than estimates, which had called for a 0.4% increase.
2. Bitcoin soars to new high, topping $51,000 for first time
Bitcoin smashed through $51,000 to hit a new all-time high Wednesday. Major financial companies appear to be warming to bitcoin, while Tesla and other firms have also shown support for the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin's latest rally is reminiscent of its massive ascent to nearly $20,000 in 2017, which was followed by an 80% plunge the following year. However, the world's biggest cryptocurrency did stage a fierce comeback since, more than quadrupling in 2020 and gaining over 70% since the start of this year.
3. Here are Warren Buffett-run Berkshire's stock moves last quarter
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought stakes worth $4.1 billion in Chevron and $8.6 billion in Verizon shares during the fourth quarter, according to the conglomerate's latest 13-F filing with the SEC. Berkshire also sold its stakes in drug maker Pfizer and JPMorgan Chase, while trimming its Wells Fargo position. While still its biggest holding, Berkshire continued to trim its lucrative Apple stake, cutting it by about 6%. Four times a year, investors file their long positions with the government. The information is released to the public 45 days after each quarter ends.
4. Elon Musk's SpaceX valuation jumps to about $74 billion
SpaceX completed another big equity funding round of $850 million last week, people familiar with the financing told CNBC, sending the company's valuation skyrocketing 60% from its previous raise in August to about $74 billion. Elon Musk, who also co-founded Tesla, saw insiders and existing investors in his commercial space company selling an additional $750 million in a secondary transaction, one of the people said. SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on this report.
5. Millions in Texas still without power as new storm hits
Millions of residents in Texas were still in the dark Wednesday with no indication when their service might return as another winter storm moved across the southern part of the nation. In all, between 2 million and 3 million customers in the energy capital of the U.S. had no power two days after historic snow and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity for heat.
Wholesale power and natural gas prices soared in recent days. However, natural gas futures dropped early Wednesday. U.S. oil prices kept up their advance Wednesday, gaining more than 1% and pushing above $61 per barrel, levels not seen since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real time with CNBC Pro's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.
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