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March 20 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 6:57 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, March 20:    

1.-- U.S. stock futures were falling Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen hinted that U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets were expecting.

European stocks declined while Asian shares finished Thursday's session with losses. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.7%.

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, existing home sales for February at 10 a.m., the Philadelphia Fed Index for March at 10 a.m., and leading indicators for February at 10 a.m.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Wednesday closed lower but bounced off session lows Wednesday after Yellen explained the central bank's revised forward guidance, including a plan to drop the unemployment threshold.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7% to finish at 16,222.17, the S&P 500 fell 0.61% to 1,860.77 and the Nasdaq dropped 0.59% to 4,307.6.

4.-- The Fed on Thursday will publish the results of its annual health check of big banks, including Citigroup  (C)JPMorgan  (JPM) and Morgan Stanley  (MS).

If the Fed finds that any of the 30 banks subject to the so-called stress tests are still at risk, the banks will then have a few days to change any plans they may have made to return capital to shareholders through dividends or buybacks, according to Reuters.

5. -- Homebuilder Lennar (LEN) posted first-quarter earnings on Thursday that beat expectations.

Profit in the fiscal first quarter rose to $78.1 million, or 35 cents a share, from $57.5 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 38% to $1.4 billion.

The company said home deliveries in the quarter were 3,609, up 13% from a year earlier. 

Lennar shares rose 2.6% in premarket trading on Thursday to $42.40.

6. -- Sports equipment and apparel maker Nike (NKE) is expected by analysts on Thursday to report profit of 72 cents a share in its fiscal third quarter on revenue of $6.68 billion.

7. -- Activist investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday proposed that eBay (EBAY - Get Report) spin off 20% of PayPal in an initial public offering.

Icahn has badgered the company since the beginning of 2014 to separate PayPal in a complete spinoff.

eBay repeated on Wednesday that PayPal should remain part of it. PayPal's revenue is growing faster than the sales of the rest of the company.

eBay shares fell 0.3% in premarket trading.

8. -- Walmart  (WMT) is making an aggressive push for outdoor and garden business this spring for the first time, featuring "Black Friday-like prices" on more than 60 items, The New York Times noted, including a Kingsford Charcoal Grill for $88, bags of mulch for $1.97 each and a seven-piece patio furniture set for $298, a discount of $100.

The stock rose 2.1% in premarket trading to $75.95.

9. -- Wall Street expects ConAgra Foods (CAG) to report third-quarter earnings of 60 cents a share on revenue of $4.4 billion.

10.-- Boeing's (BA - Get Report) design and manufacture of the 787 jetliner is safe despite the many problems encountered since the plane's rollout, including a fire that forced a redesign of the its batteries, according to a report issued jointly Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration and the aircraft maker.

Boeing shares fell 0.2%.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

To submit a news tip, send an email

Follow @josephwoe58


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

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