Here are five things you must know for Thursday, March 21:
1. -- Stocks Mixed Amid Fed's Dovish Turn
U.S. stock futures were mixed on Thursday following the Federal Reserve's decision to remove any prospect of a rate hike in 2019 while warning of slowing economic growth, and on Donald Trump's comments on China tariffs.
The Fed kept its key policy target unchanged at 2.25% to 2.5%, and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said he would remain "patient," monitoring incoming data and developments in the global economy, and would be unlikely to move on interest rates until early next year. He also said the Fed would freeze bond sales from its $3.8 trillion balance sheet later this autumn.
"It may be some time before the outlook for jobs and inflation calls clearly for a change in policy," Powell said. "Patient means that we see no need to rush to judgment."
Ordinarily, a dovish Fed would lift stocks across the globe, but investors remained cautious amid the overhang of slowing global growth, an uncertain outcome in U.S.-China trade talks and a still-unresolved Brexit drama in Europe.
Trump, meanwhile, said Wednesday that tariffs on China-made goods would remain "for a substantial period of time because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China that China lives by the deal."
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 42 points, futures for the S&P 500 slipped 2.75 points, and Nasdaq futures rose 1.50 points.
U.S. stocks closed mostly lower Wednesday, following the widely expected decision by the Federal Reserve to keep key interest rates unchanged.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey for March at 8:30 a.m., and Leading Indicators for February at 10 a.m.
2. -- Micron Rises on Forecast of Second-Half Chip Rebound
Micron Technology (MU - Get Report) was up 3.1% in premarket trading Thursday to $41.37 after the memory chipmaker posted fiscal second-quarter earnings and sales that topped Wall Street expectations, and echoed semiconductor sector rivals by forecasting an uptick in global demand over the second half of the year.
The company reported a profit of $1.71 a share, down sharply from a year earlier, but 4 cents ahead of analysts' projections. Revenue of $5.84 billion fell 20.6% from the same period last year but beat forecasts of $5.82 billion. Adjusted free cash flow in the quarter hit $1 billion, Micron said.
Micron said it would cut capital expenditures this fiscal year to $9 billion, while forecasting revenue of between $4.6 billion and $5 billion. The company's revenue estimate came in below Wall Street estimates, but, like many of its rival in the chip sector, Micron said it expected semiconductor demand will accelerate in the second half of the year as inventory overhangs erode and global smart phone sales rebound.
"The slowdown in demand is a result of ongoing customer inventory adjustments, as well as software optimizations at some cloud customers," said President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra. "We expect growth to resume in the second half of calendar 2019 as we see improvement in our customers' inventory position."
"Micron continues to execute well across a range of product, operational and financial initiatives against the backdrop of a challenging market environment," said President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra. "These initiatives and our focus on high-value solutions, cost competitiveness and innovation will enable us to emerge even stronger as the market environment improves."
3. -- Nike, Darden and Conagra Report Earnings Thursday
Analysts expect Nike, the athletic apparel maker, to earn 65 cents in its fiscal third quarter on sales of $9.61 billion.
Darden Restaurants (DRI - Get Report) reported fiscal third-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.80 a share, beating estimates by 5 cents, and the parent of Olive Garden restaurants raised its 2019 earnings outlook.
Lands End (LE - Get Report) posted adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 50 cents a share, 9 cents ahead of estimates, and said it expects to report a fiscal first-quarter loss of 26 cents to 34 cents a share vs. analysts' forecasts of 24 cents.
4. -- FBI Joins Criminal Probe Into Boeing's 737 MAX
The FBI has joined the criminal investigation into the certification of Boeing's (BA - Get Report) 737 MAX jet, joining a probe already being conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to reports.
The FBI is assisting federal transportation authorities in their investigation into the jet's certification process, which has come under criticism for possible cozy relationships between Boeing and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors, USA Today reported.
Meanwhile, European and Canadian regulators plan to conduct their own reviews of changes Boeing is making after two of the jets crashed, one earlier this month in Ethiopia and the other in October.
The Europeans and Canadians want to do more than simply take the FAA's that alterations to a key flight-control system will make the 737 MAX safer, the Associated Press reported.
Boeing hopes by Monday to finish an update to software that can automatically point the nose of the plane sharply downward in some circumstances to avoid an aerodynamic stall, according to two people briefed on FAA presentations to congressional committees, the Associated Press reported.
Boeing shares fell 0.5% in premarket trading.
5. -- Levi Strauss Is Valued at $6.6 Billion in IPO
Levi Strauss & Co.'s initial public offering was priced at $17 a share, above the anticipated range of $14 to $16 a share, and values the jeans maker at about $6.6 billion.
The clothing company is slated to offer about 36.7 million shares of its Class A common stock at $17 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday under the symbol (LEVI) .
The company is offering 9.5 common shares and selling stockholders will offer 27.2 million shares. Reports have said the offer was ,206,110 shares. Underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 5,500,000 shares from the company at the IPO price.
Levi Strauss filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for its proposed IPO in February and earlier this month pegged the price range at $14 to $16 a share.
In February, when announcing its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, the jeans maker reported quarterly net revenue climbed 9% to nearly $1.6 billion, when factoring currency costs that ran up to $32 million. Full-year net revenue grew 14% to nearly $5.6 billion.
The California company, whose name has become nearly synonymous with blue jeans, traces its history back to the late 1870s. Jean's inventor Levi Strauss was an immigrant from Bavaria and traveled from New York to California during the Gold Rush, where he eventually started Levi Strauss & Co.
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