What to watch today: Dow looks to extend gains to a three session rally

Dow futures pointed to a relatively flat open Wednesday, one day after the 30-stock average saw its best single-session advance of more than 475 points or 1.58% and its best two-session rally since November. Nasdaq futures were stronger Wednesday as Alphabet (GOOGL) shares soared over 7% in premarket trading after the Google-parent reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and revenue. (CNBC)

* Mortgage refinancing suddenly surges, but homebuyers stall due to sticker shock (CNBC)

The back-to-back increase in the broader stock market coincided with a sharp two-day reversal in soaring GameStop (GME), which saw modest gains lose steam in Wednesday's premarket. The Reddit-fueled short-squeezed stock plunged 72% since Friday's close of $325. In last week's 400% surge, Gamestop touched an intraday all-time high of $483 per share. (CNBC)

* Treasury Secretary Yellen to call regulator meeting on GameStop volatility (Reuters)
* Reddit user who helped inspire GameStop mania lost $13 million Tuesday but holding on (CNBC)
* Robinhood moves forward with first Super Bowl ad as brand crisis mounts (CNBC)
* Hedge Fund behind AMC rescue loan made hundreds of millions of dollars in gains (WSJ)

Ahead of Friday's release of the government's monthly employment report, ADP released its January look at job trends at U.S. companies Wednesday morning. ADP said 174,000 private sector positions were added last month. That was more than triple expectations. December's tally was upwardly revised to a decline of 78,000. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos said that he plans to step down as CEO and transition to executive chairman, an announcement that coincided with the company's earnings report that showed record quarterly revenue. Amazon cloud chief Andy Jassy will take over for Bezos as CEO in the third quarter. Bezos, 57, said he will stay engaged. (CNBC)

* Bezos: 'I've never had more energy, and this isn't about retiring' (CNBC Make It)
* Jassy transformed e-commerce company into a cloud computing giant (CNBC)

Shares of Amazon were little changed in the premarket on the Bezos news and the company exceeding $100 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time ever. In fact, fourth-quarter revenue soared to a better-than-expected $125.56 billion. Per-share earnings of $14.09 nearly doubled expectations. (CNBC)

A strong return to growth in its core advertising business pushed Alphabet's fourth-quarter earnings and revenue above Wall Street expectations. The company made $22.30 per share on revenue of $56.90 billion. Alphabet disclosed operating results from Google's cloud business for the first time, showing the unit lost $1.24 billion during Q4 and $5.61 billion for the full year. (CNBC)

The U.K.'s decision to delay the second shot of the AstraZeneca (AZN) coronavirus vaccine has been found to be an effective strategy, according to a new study. Oxford researchers found that the Covid vaccine was 76% effective at preventing symptomatic infection for three months after a single dose, and the efficacy rate rose with a longer interval between the first and second doses. (CNBC)

* Vaxart says its oral Covid vaccine produced promising results in early trial (CNBC)

Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and German biotech firm CureVac (CVAC) struck $180 million deal to develop next-generation vaccines against Covid-19 that target several variants in one product. The partners said they were targeting a possible launch in 2022. (Reuters)

The U.S. will increase its weekly shipments of Covid-19 vaccine doses to states by 5% and send some doses directly to pharmacies to expand access to the lifesaving shots nationwide, according to the Biden administration's Covid-19 response team. The federal government will send doses directly to drugstores beginning Feb. 11. (CNBC)

* Covid vaccine will be administered in 'safe and appropriate places,' Walgreens executive says (CNBC)
* 'All I did was cry:' Elderly Americans struggle to set up Covid vaccine appointments (CNBC)

Yellen and President Joe Biden joined Democratic senators for a private virtual meeting Tuesday, and they declared a GOP offer of $618 billion in Covid stimulus as too small. As the White House still tries to reach a bipartisan relief bill, Democrats marshaled their slim Senate majority to start a lengthy process for approving Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal with or without Republican support. (AP)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with hard-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene as Republicans wrestled over how to handle a bipartisan outcry over her endorsement of outlandish conspiracy theories and of violent, racist views. (AP)

* GOP's Liz Cheney faces rebuke from far-right over her vote to impeach Trump (USA Today)

The latest prototype of SpaceX's next-generation Starship rocket launched successfully on Tuesday but exploded on impact during an attempted landing after a development test flight. The rocket prototypes are built of stainless steel, representing the early versions of the rocket that CEO Elon Musk unveiled last year. (CNBC)

STOCK TO WATCH

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ): Jazz said on Wednesday it would buy GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) in a $7.2 billion cash-and-stock deal to expand its neuroscience business by adding cannabis-based epilepsy treatment to its suite of drugs.

Spotify (SPOT): The music streaming service reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, although its revenue did beat analyst forecasts. The number of premium subscribers jumped by 24% to a better-than-expected 155 million.

Capri Holdings (CPRI) : The company behind Michael Kors and other luxury brands earned $1.65 per share for its latest quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.01 a share. Revenue came in below forecasts, however, due in part to coronavirus-related closures in major European markets.

Boston Scientific (BSX): The medical device maker missed estimates by 8 cents a share, with quarterly earnings of 23 cents per share. Revenue also came in below Wall Street forecasts and Boston Scientific issued a weaker-than-expected current-quarter outlook.

Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG): The maker of lawn and garden products reported a per-share profit of 39 cents per share, compared to Wall Street forecasts of a 77 cents per share loss. Revenue came in well above estimates as consumer sales surged 147%. This is the first time Scotts has ever posted a profit during its fiscal first quarter.

Humana (HUM): The health insurer lost $2.30 per share for its latest quarter, compared to a year-ago profit. The loss, however, was 6 cents a share smaller than analysts had anticipated, with revenue beating estimates.

Kraft Heinz (KHC): The food maker is reportedly in talks to sell its Planters Snacks brand to Hormel Foods (HRL), maker of Skippy Peanut Butter. The Wall Street Journal said the deal could be worth about $3 billion and could be announced as soon as next week.

Electronic Arts (EA): Electronic Arts shares are falling in pre-market trading even after the videogame company raised its annual sales forecast, projecting strong sales of sports-related titles like "Madden NFL 2021" and "FIFA 2021." Analysts say that investors may have been anticipating stronger results and a more upbeat forecast, given the strength of the market and the stock's recent rise.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG): Chipotle fell 25 cents a share short of estimates, with quarterly profit of $3.48 per share. The restaurant chain's revenue was in line with Wall Street forecasts. Online ordering boosted sales for Chipotle, but pandemic-related costs cut into the bottom line.

Sony (SNE): Sony boosted its full-year profit outlook by a third, amid strong demand for its PlayStation 5 video game console. Sony said, however, that it was having trouble keeping up with demand due to a worldwide shortage of semiconductors.

Freeport McMoRan (FCX): Freeport McMoRan reinstated its common stock dividend at 30 cents per share annually, an increase of 10 cents a share over where the payout was before it was suspended last April. The mining company also announced that CEO Richard Adkerson would take on the additional job of Chairman.

Amgen (AMGN): The biotech firm issued a weaker-than-expected full-year outlook, saying the pandemic would continue to impact sales. Amgen also paused or halted enrollment in three trials involving cancer drugs.

Match Group (MTCH): Match topped Wall Street's revenue estimates for its latest quarter, although profit merely matched forecasts. The parent of Tinder and other dating apps saw increased usage in areas where the pandemic has lessened. The lost 4% in premarket trading as of 7:32 a.m. ET.

Alibaba (BABA): Alibaba is seeking to raise up to $5 billion in US dollar-denominated bonds, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to CNBC. The Chinese e-commerce company is said to be planning several different categories of debt with maturities of up to 40 years.

Source: Read Full Article