Here are 10 things you should know for Wednesday, Feb. 19:
1.-- U.S. stock futures were pointing lower Wednesday ahead of housing starts data, and as key offshore markets decline.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 0.5% to 14,766.53 after a 3.1% gain the day before on increased stimulus measures from the Bank of Japan.
2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday includes housing starts and building permits for January at 8:30 a.m. EST, the Producer Price Index for January at 8:30 a.m., and minutes from the Jan. 29 Federal Open Market Committee meeting at 2 p.m.
3.-- U.S. stocks on Tuesday closed mixed as poor reports from the homebuilding and manufacturing sectors weighed against a $25 billion merger deal in the biotech sector.
The S&P 500 rose 0.11% to close at 1,840.73 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.15% to 16,130.27. The Nasdaq rose 0.68% to 4,272.78.
4.-- The Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday that a minimum wage hike would reduce employment but boost families' incomes.
The report comes amid a debate among Democrats and Republicans in Washington as to whether the U.S. should increase minimum wage requirements, an argument that could have serious ramifications for control of the House and Senate during the 2014 midterm elections.
The CBO examined the wage-hike effects based on two scenarios: a $10.10 option versus a $9 option.
In the fully implemented $10.10 minimum, the agency found a central estimate of about 500,000 workers would lose their jobs, while boosting income for low-wage workers by $31 billion. However, the CBO said just $5.89 billion of that estimate would accrue for families living below the poverty threshold.
The likely series of employment scenarios for the $10.10 option ranged from a "very slight decrease" to 1 million jobs cuts.
In the fully implemented $9 minimum wage -- a policy President Obama endorsed early last year -- the CBO reported a central estimate of about 100,000 workers would lose work, while income for families living below the poverty line would gain by $1 billion.
6.-- General Motors (GM - Get Report) is accelerating efforts to field a largely aluminum-bodied pickup truck by late 2018, under pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards and rival Ford (F), The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The No. 1 U.S. automaker recently locked-in supply contracts with Alcoa (AA) and Novelis, which are now working to increase their aluminum sheet production to supply the next-generation GM pickup, the people told the Journal.
7.-- Sandwich chain Potbelly (PBPB) posted a fourth-quarter loss on Tuesday of $3.68 million, or $1.93 a share, a reversal from year-earlier profit of $18.48 million, or $1.05 a share.
Adjusted earnings in the quarter were 6 cents a share; analysts were looking for 4 cents.
8.-- Garmin (GRMN), the navigation device maker, is expected by analysts on Wednesday to post fourth-quarter profit of 62 cents a share on revenue of $712.8 million.
The company also raised earnings guidance for 2014, saying it expects adjusted profit of $5.85 to $6.05 a share.
10.-- Coffee jumped to its highest price in more than a year Tuesday as dry growing conditions continued in Brazil.
Coffee for May delivery climbed 12.6 cents, or 8.8%, to $1.55 per pound on Tuesday, the highest price since January last year. Prices have risen 47% in the last three months.
-- Written by Joseph Woelfel
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