Here are five things you must know for Thursday, March 15:
1. -- Stocks Edge Higher
U.S. stock futures were modestly higher on Thursday, March 15, even as investors reacted to the appointment of a staunch free-trade advocate to a key role in the White House and continued to fret over the potential for a global trade war.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53 points while those linked to the broader S&P 500 were up 2.25 points.
Donald Trump's decision to appoint television commentator Larry Kudlow as his top economic adviser was partly linked to the market's optimistic tone, given the former Reagan-era economist's views on free trade and corporate deregulation. Kudlow's appointment also appeared to help soften concerns that Trump's targeting of China for further $60 billion in tariffs -- in an effort to reduce the $375 billion trade deficit the U.S. has with the world's second-largest economy -- could accelerate a brewing trade war.
Stocks finished lower on Wednesday, March 14, as investors debated the prospects of a global trade war following the firing of Rex Tillerson as U.S. secretary of state.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 248 points, or 0.99%, to 24,758. The S&P 500 declined 0.57% and the Nasdaq was down 0.19%. The leading laggard on the Dow was Boeing Co. (BA) - Get Report , which fell 2.5% on Wednesday.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey for March at 8:30 a.m., the Empire State Manufacturing Survey for March at 8:30 a.m., and Import and Export Prices for February at 8:30 a.m.
Dollar General Corp. (DG) - Get Report rose 8.7% in premarket trading after the retailer posted fourth-quarter same-store sales above analysts' expectations and said it expects sales to rise 9% in fiscal 2018, and earnings of $5.95 to $6.15 a share.
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2. -- Toys 'R' Us to Close or Sell Its U.S. Stores
Toys "R" Us, the 70-year-old retailer, will be closing its U.S. operations, jeopardizing the jobs of about 30,000 employees.
The toy chain plans to close its 740 U.S. stores over the coming months.
CEO David Brandon told employees Wednesday the company's plan was to liquidate all of its U.S. stores, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by the Associated Press.
Brandon said Toys "R" Us will try to bundle its Canadian business, with about 200 stores, and find a buyer. The company's U.S. online store would still be running for the next couple of weeks in case there's a buyer for it, the AP reported.
Toys "R" Us filed for bankruptcy in September 2017, listing $4 billion in liabilities. The company then struggled during the crucial holiday season.
Amazon declined to comment on the documents seen by Reuters. But CEO Jeff Bezos has been upfront about the company's use of entertainment to drive merchandise sales, Reuters noted.
3. -- Amazon's Internal Prime Video Numbers Revealed - Report
Amazon.com Inc.'s (AMZN) - Get Reporttop television shows drew more than 5 million people worldwide to its Prime shopping club by early 2017, according to company documents, Reuters reported.
The documents showed that Amazon's U.S. audience for all video programming on Prime, including films and TV shows it licenses from other companies, was about 26 million customers.
The internal documents compared metrics that have never been reported for 19 shows exclusive to Amazon: their cost, their viewership and the number of people they helped lure to Prime, according to Reuters. Known as Prime Originals, the shows account for as much as a quarter of what analysts estimate to be total Prime sign-ups from late 2014 to early 2017, the period covered by the documents.
Amazon closed Wednesday at $1,591, up 0.18%, and has risen 36% year to date.
4. -- Unilever Chooses the Netherlands for Its Global HQ
Unilever PLC (UL) - Get Report said Thursday it plans to move its global headquarters to the Netherlands from London, a move that could potentially offer more protection from hostile takeovers but also could be seen as a major blow to Britain's post-Brexit business reputation.
Unilever, Britain's third-largest company, has a dual share structure and corporate governance rules that comply with both British and Dutch regulations. It will simplify into a single structure that it said will allow it to react to business and merger opportunities more quickly. Unilever will, however, retain its London listing, although it is unclear whether the shares will be able to remain on the FTSE 100 benchmark once the group's headquarters are moved from its iconic location along the River Thames in central London.
5. -- iHeartMedia Files for Bankruptcy
The company said it reached an agreement with holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt for a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring that would reduce its debt by more than $10 billion.
iHeartMedia said it would continue operating the business in the "ordinary course as a leading global multi-platform media, entertainment and data company."
The company, which owns 858 radio stations, said it believes that cash on hand, together with cash generated from ongoing operations, "will be sufficient to fund and support the business during the Chapter 11 proceedings."
This article has been updated with fresh stock market prices.