What to watch today: Nasdaq futures rise as 10-year Treasury yield retreats

The Nasdaq on Monday was set to build on Friday's nearly 0.8% increase as the 10-year Treasury yield started the new week retreating from last week's 14-month high. The Dow and the S&P 500, which lost ground Friday, joined the Nasdaq in negative territory last week. The Dow and S&P 500 last closed at record highs Wednesday, while the Nasdaq last closed at a record in February. (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the National Association of Realtors is out with February existing home sales at 10 a.m. ET, with forecasts calling for a 2.8% drop to an annual rate of 6.5 million units.  Existing home sales gained 0.6% in January. There are no major companies scheduled to report earnings today. (CNBC)

* Today's biggest analyst calls: Snap, Pinterest, DraftKings and Nike (CNBC Pro)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

AstraZeneca's (AZN) Covid vaccine was 79% effective in preventing symptomatic illness, according to data published Monday from a 32,000-plus person phase 3 trial in the U.S. and in Latin America. The two-shot vaccine also showed 100% efficacy in preventing severe disease and hospitalization. AstraZeneca plans to file with the FDA for emergency use authorization in April. (CNBC)

* Analysts cheer ‘surprisingly positive’ AstraZeneca U.S. trial data (CNBC)

The latest trial data in the U.S. and in Latin America comes as a number of European nations temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine following reports of blood clots. AstraZeneca also said Monday that an independent board identified no safety concerns related to the firm's inoculation. (Reuters)

Even as the pace of vaccinations accelerates in the U.S., Covid cases are increasing in 21 states and highly infectious variants are spreading as governors relax restrictions on businesses. Public health officials warn that while roughly 2.5 million people around the country are receiving shots every day, infection levels have plateaued this month.

* Miami Beach extends curfew, emergency powers to control unruly spring break crowds (CNBC)
* Covid variant from Brazil detected in New York resident for the first time (CNBC)
* Third Covid wave hits Europe: Lockdowns imposed and vaccines remain a problem (CNBC)

Nationwide, new infections are holding around 54,000 on average in the past seven days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That's a dramatic drop from January's peak. While fatalities are much lower as well, an average of 1,000 people died from Covid each day over the past seven days.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) will restart some Caribbean cruises in June, following a year-long suspension amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Crews will be fully vaccinated, and adult guests will be required to be vaccinated as well. Children under 18 will need to show proof of a negative Covid test. (Reuters)

Canadian Pacific Railway has agreed to buy Kansas City Southern for $25 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. The combination would create the first rail network connecting the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Following Sunday's announcement, shares of Kansas City Southern rose about 17% in the premarket, while shares of Canadian Pacific Railway dropped about 2.5%. (Reuters)

Shares of Tesla rose 4% in Monday's premarket after Cathie Wood's Ark Invest made a long-awaited, bold call, projecting the Elon Musk-led electric auto maker's stock would more than quadruple to $3,000 by 2025. Tesla, which closed at $654 per share Friday, has soared 665% in the past 12 months. However, the stock over the past month and year to date has hit a rough patch. (CNBC Pro)

* Jeep unveils all-electric Wrangler concept SUV (CNBC)

Apollo Global Management (APO) said Monday that CEO Leon Black, who was tarnished by his financial involvement with the late sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, has left the firm months earlier than previously announced. Black, who is also relinquishing his position as chairman, said his wife's and his own "health issues" played a key role in his decision to step aside now. (CNBC)

Congressman Tom Reed, a Republican from western New York who was accused last week of rubbing a female lobbyist's back and unhooking her bra without her consent in 2017, apologized to the woman on Sunday and announced that he will not run for reelection next year. He said he entered treatment in 2017 and realized he was "powerless over alcohol." (AP)

* Fox weather forecaster Dean turns into fierce Cuomo critic (AP)

Former President Donald Trump, suspended from Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, plans to launch his own platform in two to three months, one of his senior advisors said Sunday. Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump's 2020 campaign, told Fox News that Trump would re-enter social media with a new platform of his own that would "completely redefine the game."

STOCKS TO WATCH

Blackstone (BX): Blackstone proposed a $6.2 billion buyout of Australian casino operator Crown Resorts. The stock rose above the offer price in Australian trading, signaling investor bets that a higher bid could come from another suitor.

Stellantis (STLA): The automaker said a global semiconductor shortage would impact production of its popular pickup trucks, in a delay the parent of Chrysler and Jeep said could last "a number of weeks."

Airbnb (ABNB): Airbnb shares rose 1.5% in premarket trading as more Americans receive Covid-19 vaccines and resume their travel plans.

SunRun (RUN): The solar power company was rated "positive" in new coverage at Susquehanna Financial, with the firm saying the largest U.S. installer of residential solar power systems would benefit from anticipated strong growth in that market. Shares rose 1.9% in premarket trading.

Zoominfo Technologies (ZI): Goldman Sachs rated the digital ad technology platform provider as a "buy" in new coverage, noting the robust data provided to sales reps and the streamlining of the lead generation process. Zoominfo stock gained 2.5% in premarket action.

JetBlue (JBLU): The airline is planning to raise $650 million through the sale of convertible senior notes due in 2026. The stock fell 2% in premarket action.

WATERCOOLER

The change in the March Madness schedule brought about by the pandemic will give basketball fans a first-of-its-kind experience, eight games on a Monday, after a bracket-busting weekend. A study in 2019 estimated the men's NCAA basketball tournament could cost employers up to $1.7 billion in wasted work time over that year's 16 business days of games. (AP & NCAA.com)

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