TheStreet

Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, Dec. 18:

1. -- Stock Markets Look to the Fed to Help End the Selloff

U.S. stock futures were rising on Tuesday, Dec. 18, rebounding slightly from Monday's sharp selloff, while global shares sank as markets around the world retreated in the face of slowing economic growth and rising political uncertainty.

Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 89 points, futures for the S&P 500 rose 9.75 points, and Nasdaq futures gained 34.50 points.

Investors on Tuesday were looking to this week's Federal Reserve meeting to help steady nerves amid one of the worst Decembers on record for U.S. equities.

Stocks tanked Monday, Dec. 17, with the Dow plunging 500 points and the S&P 500, down 2.1%, closing at its lowest level since October 2017.

International investors on Tuesday were unwilling to add to risk positions heading into the final trading days of the year amid further indications that the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing was taking its toll on global growth.

Japan's cabinet cuts its GDP forecasts for the world's third-largest economy for both this year and next, citing trade tensions and a spate of natural disasters, sending the Nikkei 225 down 1.82% by the close of trading in Tokyo. Stocks in China also finished weaker, as President Xi Jinping in a speech Tuesday didn't announce any new initiatives to counter a slowing economy and the trade spat with the United States.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Tuesday includes the start of the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's monetary policymaking body. Most Fed-watchers expect the central bank to raise rates for the fourth time this year when the meeting concludes Wednesday. Wall Street will be monitoring closely the Fed's statement for clues on tightening into next year.

The calendar also includes Housing Starts for November at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI)  earned 92 cents a share in its fiscal second quarter, beating estimates by 1 cent. Revenue of $1.97 billion came in slightly below forecasts while same-store sales of 2.1% topped forecasts of 2%. 

Earnings reports are also expected Tuesday from FedEx Corp. (FDX) , Micron Technology Inc. (MU) , Jabil Inc. (JBL) and FactSet Research Systems Inc. (FDS) .

2. -- Oracle Jumps After Earnings and Revenue Top Estimates

Oracle Corp. (ORCL)  was rising 5.4% in premarket trading Tuesday after the software company's fiscal second-quarter adjusted earnings and revenue topped analysts' forecasts.

Adjusted profit in the quarter was 80 cents a share on revenue of $9.56 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 78 cents a share on revenue of $9.52 billion. Oracle said revenue from cloud services and license support in the quarter was $6.65 billion - analysts were looking for $6.63 billion.

"Oracle's two cloud ERP businesses, Fusion ERP and NetSuite ERP, delivered a combined revenue growth rate of 32% in Q2," said Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd, in a press release. "ERP has always been the largest segment of the enterprise applications business, so we have lots of room to grow as customers migrate from their traditional on-premise ERP to the Oracle Fusion ERP Cloud."

Co-CEO Safra Catz noted that "in addition to our strong EPS growth, free cash flow grew 10% to $13.8 billion over the previous 12 months. I am confident that we will continue to record strong EPS and free cash flow growth during the second half of this fiscal year."

On the earnings call, Catz guided for fiscal third-quarter revenue to rise 2% to 4% in constant currency, with forex acting as a 4% headwind. That implies revenue will be flat to down 2% in dollars, compared with a consensus for roughly 1% growth. Earnings are expected to be in a range of 83 cents to 85 cents a share, in line with consensus of 84 cents. 

Oracle also said it expects full-year revenue growth of around 3% on a constant currency basis.

3. -- Ex-CBS CEO Moonves Won't Get $120 Million Severance

Disgraced former CBS Corp. (CBS) CEO Leslie Moonves won't receive his massive $120 million golden parachute, the media giant said Monday.

Moonves was accused of sexual misconduct over the summer in a New Yorker report, and was ejected from the network in September.

"With regard to Mr. Moonves, we have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the company's investigation," the company's board said in a statement.

Moonves, who was accused of abusing his authority as head of CBS and engaging in coercive sexual misconduct with several lower-ranking employees, has denied any wrongdoing.

A lawyer for Moonves said the board's conclusions "are without merit" but didn't say whether the former CEO would challenge it in arbitration.

4. -- T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Edges Closer to Completion

T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) and Sprint Corp. (S) received approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, moving the $26.5 billion merger of the telecommunication giants one step closer to completion.

In addition, the U.S. departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense withdrew their requests to delay the transaction.
 
"We are pleased to achieve both of these important milestones in the journey to build the New T-Mobile," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a statement. He added that discussions remain with other regulatory agencies that are reviewing the transaction.
 
Completion of the deal - which would merge the country's third- and fourth-largest wireless operators - has been pegged for the first half of 2019. 

5. -- Johnson & Johnson to Buy Back $5 Billion of Stock

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) reaffirmed guidance Monday and said its board authorized the repurchase of up to $5 billion of stock following a sharp selloff in shares of the drug and consumer products giant following reports it covered up knowledge of carcinogenic asbestos in its iconic baby powder.

The company reaffirmed full-year sales guidance of $81 billion to $81.4 billion and earnings guidance of $8.13 to $8.18 a share and said it would use the selloff as an opportunity.

"Based on our continued strong performance and, more importantly, the confidence we have in our business going forward, the board of directors and management team believe that the company's shares are an attractive investment opportunity,"said Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO, in a statement. 

The stock was rising 0.5% in premarket trading on Tuesday.

Johnson & Johnson is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells JNJ? Learn more now.

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