Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Stock futures start new month higher after late-February sell-off
- U.S. gets third vaccine to fight against Covid
- $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill goes to Senate
- 'Never bet against America,' Buffett says in annual letter
- Buffett bets on Berkshire, Apple remains top holding
1. Stock futures start new month higher after late-February sell-off
U.S. stock futures started the new month moving sharply higher Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq indicated to rise more than 1% each, trying to put a dent in the late February decline. While rapidly rising bond yields pressured stocks last week, the 10-year Treasury yield dropped Monday from a one-year high, trading around 1.43%. The Dow lost 1.8% and the S&P 500 fell nearly 2.5% for the week. The Nasdaq took the brunt of the tech sell-off, with a weekly loss of 4.9%. February's strong start, however, was enough to carry the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq higher by nearly 3.2%, 2.6% and almost 1%, respectively, for the month.
Activist investor Jeff Ubben will join Exxon Mobil's board of directors, sources told CNBC's David Faber. Mike Angelakis, chairman and CEO of Atairos and former CFO of Comcast, is also joining the board, sources said. The moves come as Exxon has faced pressure from shareholders to reshuffle its board due to the company's languishing stock price. Exxon jumped 4% during premarket trading.
2. U.S. gets third vaccine to fight against Covid
The CDC has signed off on Johnson & Johnson's one-shot Covid-19 vaccine for people 18 years and older as the federal government prepares to ship out millions of doses this week. The FDA gave J&J's vaccine, which demonstrated 72% efficacy in the U.S., emergency use authorization Saturday. While the two other vaccines cleared in the U.S. — two-shot regimes from Pfizer and Moderna — each showed over 90% efficacy, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday all three are "really quite good." He told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Americans should take whatever vaccine they can get.
3. $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill goes to Senate
The House early Saturday approved a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill championed by President Joe Biden. It included $1,400 direct payments to individuals, a $400-per-week federal unemployment boost through late August, and billions of dollars to distribute coronavirus vaccines and to assist schools and local governments. The measure goes to the Senate, where a provision to raise the federal minimum wage will likely be stripped out. But as NBC News points out, the rest of the package appeared to be good shape as Democrats aim to use a process that doesn't require Republican support.
4. 'Never bet against America,' Buffett says in annual letter
Warren Buffett, the 90-year-old "Oracle of Omaha," remains a firm believer in the U.S., saying in Saturday's release of his closely watched Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder letter to "never bet against America." On the markets, Buffett said ultralow interest rates around the world diminished the appeal of bonds. Buffett also said Berkshire's May 1 annual meeting will be held in Los Angeles, the first time outside of Omaha, Nebraska. Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, who lives in Los Angeles, missed 2020′s meeting due to pandemic travel restrictions. Munger, 97, is expected to join Buffett this year.
5. Buffett bets on Berkshire, Apple remains top holding
As Covid-fallout roiled markets during 2020, Buffett said in his letter that Berkshire bought back around $9 billion worth of shares in the fourth quarter, bringing last year's total repurchases to a record $24.7 billion. Apple still ranks as the conglomerate's biggest common stock investment, which played an important role offsetting the pandemic damage to Berkshire's railroad and insurance business in 2020. The letter contained no update on succession or details on what Buffett may do with Berkshire's more than $138 billion in cash on hand at the end of 2020.
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