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Morning Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are 10 things you should know for Friday, March 1:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were suggesting a mixed open for Wall Street as investors wait to see whether President Obama and Congress can reach a last-minute agreement to avert across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect Friday.

European stocks were rising slightly in early trading Friday. Asian shares ended mostly lower on weaker Chinese manufacturing growth but Japanese shares bucked the trend and gained 0.4%.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Friday includes personal income and spending for January at 8:30 a.m. EST, the University of Michigan sentiment index for February at 9:55 a.m., and the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for February at 10 a.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Thursday dived in the final hour of trading, reversing day-long gains, as a lower-than-expected revision in fourth-quarter gross domestic product data offset better-than-anticipated Chicago business activity and jobless claims reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 20.88 points, or 0.15%, to finish at 14,054. The index peaked at 14,149.15 on Thursday, shy of its all-time closing high of 14,164.

The S&P 500 closed off 1.31 point, or 0.09, at 1515. The Nasdaq dropped 2.07 points, or 0.07%, to 3160.

4. -- President Obama and leaders of both parties in Congress will meet Friday to discuss how to avert automatic spending cuts of $85 billion -- also known as the sequester -- that will take effect at midnight on Friday.

Alternative measures submitted Thursday by Senate Democrats and Republicans to avoid the cuts failed. Most Washington-watchers expect little to come of Friday's meeting at the White House.

5. -- Best Buy (BBY - Get Report), the consumer-electronics chain, ended talks with founder Richard Schulze over a deal in which he and a group of buyout firms proposed to take a minority stake in the company in exchange for three seats on the board, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

It appears Schulze won't be able to execute the buyout of Best Buy he proposed last year, the people told the newspaper. But Schulze could come back to Best Buy with another proposal, they said.

Best Buy also reports earnings Friday, and is expected by Wall Street to post quarterly profit of $1.53 a share on revenue of $16.32 billion.

6. -- Andrew Mason has been removed as Groupon's (GRPN - Get Report) CEO, effectively immediately, and is being replaced by Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis in the interim.

Groupon reported fourth-quarter results on Wednesday that caused some to question whether Mason would continue much longer in the role.

7. -- Boeing (BA - Get Report) plans to cut hundreds of workers at a South Carolina factory where it builds 787 Dreamliners, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the plan.

8. -- Gap (GPS - Get Report) said Thursday that fourth-quarter profit rose 61%, and the retailer raised its annual dividend to 60 cents a share from 50 cents.

9. -- (CRM - Get Report) posted a fourth-quarter adjusted profit, excluding items, of 51 cents a share, topping analysts' forecasts of adjusted earnings of 40 cents a share.

10. -- Warren Buffett's annual letter to shareholders will be released Friday afternoon.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel

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