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March 18 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 6:50 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Tuesday, March 18:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a weaker start for Wall Street on Tuesday as Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen presides over her first policy-making meeting as chief of the central bank.

European stocks were lower. Asian shares ended the session with gains. Japan's Niikkei 225 rose 0.9%. 

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Tuesday includes housing starts and building permits for February at 8:30 a.m. EDT and the Consumer Price Index for February at 8:30 a.m. The Federal Open Market Committee two-day meeting begins Tuesday.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Monday closed higher in a relief rally after the absence of military violence surrounding the weekend's Crimea vote. Domestic industrial production rebounded, pointing to ongoing improvement in the domestic economy. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.13% to close at 16,247.22 while the S&P 500 gained 0.96% to 1,858.83. The Nasdaq rose 0.81% to 4,279.95.

4.-- General Motors (GM - Get Report) issued a new recall of 1.5 million vehicles on Monday, and CEO Mary Barra acknowledged the mistakes made by the automaker.

In a video message to employees posted Monday, Barra said the new recall resulted from a push to review potential safety issues and resolve them more quickly.

It's part of the fallout from the recall last month of more than 1.6 million small cars for defective engine switches. The defect is linked to 12 deaths, and GM is facing multiple investigations into how it handled the recall. GM first began investigating the switches in 2004.

"Something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things happened," Barra said.

GM said it expects to spend about $300 million in the first quarter to repair the vehicles in the new recalls as well as the vehicles in the small car recall.

GM shares rose 0.2% in premarket trading.

5. -- Wal-Mart  (WMT - Get Report) launched a video game trade-in program that it hopes will "disrupt" the $2-billion pre-owned video game market and take share from competitors like GameStop (GME).

Starting March 26, approximately 3,100 U.S. Wal-Mart stores will begin buying back used video games, the company announced. The new program will add to Wal-Mart's mobile device trade-in program, which was launched last year.

6. -- Software maker Oracle (ORCL) is expected by analysts on Tuesday to post fiscal third-quarter earnings of 70 cents a share on revenue of $9.36 billion.

In premarket trading, Oracle shares rose 0.7% to $38.50.

7. -- American Express (AXP) said Monday that it is selling half of its business-travel division for $900 million, creating a joint venture with a group led by Certares International Bank, in a deal that allows Amex to keep a stake in corporate travel while freeing up cash to "to invest in growth initiatives."

8. -- Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella may unveil an iPad version of the company's Office software suite on March 27, a source familiar with the event told Reuters.

Nadella, who replaced longtime CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year, will address the media and industry executives in San Francisco on March 27.

The stock rose 0.9% in premarket trading to $38.38.

9. -- Adobe Systems (ADBE), the maker of enterprise software, is forecast by Wall Street on Tuesday to post fiscal first-quarter profit of 25 cents a share.

10.-- Sony (SNE) began a new round of job cuts at its entertainment division, a person with knowledge of the situation told Bloomberg

The reductions are taking place at the Culver City, Calif.-based film and television studio and other locations worldwide, the person told Bloomberg.

Sony shares fell 1.3% in premarket trading to $17.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

To submit a news tip, send an email to:tips@thestreet.com.

Follow @josephwoe58

 

Copyright 2014 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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