Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, Feb. 20:
1. -- Stock Futures Point to a Weaker Start for Wall Street
U.S. stock futures pointed to a weaker start for Wall Street on Wednesday, Feb. 20, while global stocks traded cautiously higher amid increasing signs of tangible progress in U.S.-China trade talks and a suggestion from Donald Trump that negotiations could be extended if the two sides failed to reach an agreement by March 1.
With China's trade delegation arriving in Washington this week, investors are growing increasingly optimistic that the year-long trade spat, which has resulted in collective tariffs worth nearly $500 billion and slowed global trade to its weakest levels since 2010, finally may be heading toward at worst a stalemate between the world's two biggest economies.
Trump's comments to reporters late Tuesday in Washington also suggested that the midnight March 1 deadline was not a "magical" date and could be extended.
"The real question will be: Will we raise the tariffs?" Trump said. "I know that China would like not for that to happen. So I think they are trying to move fast so that doesn't happen. But we'll see what happens."
China, for its part, has said through its state-controlled media that "China and the U.S. must sign an agreement that will inspire their people, heralding accelerated economic development."
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 35 points, futures for the S&P 500 slipped 2.75 points, and Nasdaq futures fell 2.50 points.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes minutes from the Jan. 30 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. The Federal Reserve's policy-setting arm made no changes to official U.S. interest rates at its meeting last month, pledging to be "patient" about the future path of monetary policy after increasing the benchmark four times in 2018.
- Fed's $4 Trillion Balance Sheet in Focus Ahead of Minutes From January Meeting
- As Fed Pauses on Interest Rates, Some Economists Now Project Cuts
2. -- CVS and Avis Lead Wednesday's Earnings Calendar
CVS Health Corp. (CVS) - Get Report earned $2.14 a share on an adjusted basis in the fourth quarter, beating estimates of $2.09. Revenue of $54.4 billion, however, missed forecasts of $54.6 billion. The company said it expects 2019 adjusted earnings of $6.68 to $6.88 a share, below Wall Street's consensus forecast of $7.35.
CVS shares fell 4.9% in premarket trading on Wednesday.
3. -- Tesla Will Have Technology in Place for Self-Driving Car by End of 2019
In a podcast chat with ARK Invest CEO Catherine Wood and analyst Tasha Keeney posted Tuesday, Musk said "we will be feature-complete for full self-driving this year."
Elaborating on exactly what that would mean, Musk said "the car will able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, and take you all the way your destination without an intervention."
"I am certain of that," Musk said on the podcast with ARK, which is a Tesla shareholder.
But Musk, who has faced fallout in the past over predictions that, at least in the eyes of his critics, didn't work out, also hedged his bets.
Musk went on to say his prediction about Tesla having the technology in place for self-driving by the end of 2019 doesn't mean Tesla will have a car that works with "100% certainty" and without observation.
The electric carmaker won't reach that threshold until the end of 2020, he said.
"My guess when we would think it's safe for someone to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination (is) probably towards the end of next year," Musk said.
Separately, Tesla, looking to boost demand for its Model 3, reportedly is preparing to launch leasing products for the mass-market sedan, Electrek reported.
Sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that Tesla sent an email to employees this week to let them know they will be able to lease Model 3 within the next two weeks.
4. -- Google Makes 'Error' in Not Disclosing Microphone on Nest System
"The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part," a spokesperson told Business Insider.
Google announced earlier this month that Nest Secure would be getting an update - users could now enable its virtual assistant technology, Google Assistant. The problem, however, was that Nest users didn't know a microphone even existed on their security device to begin with, Business Insider reported.
Google said "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option."
5. -- Trump to Cancel Funding for High-Speed Rail in California
The Trump administration said it will cancel almost a billion dollars in federal grant money intended for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, according to a letter Tuesday from the Transportation Department.
It's the latest round in the battle between California and the White House focusing on crime, immigration and environmental matters.
Just a week ago, recently elected California Gov. Gavin Newsom used his state-of-the-state address to announce a proposal to end the state's long-delayed and expense-plagued effort to build the high-speed rail link between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Newsom cited the cost of the program and the length of time it would take to complete.
The state should continue to build a section of high-speed rail between Merced and Bakersfield in California's central valley, Newsom said, because giving up that part of the project would mean returning $3.5 billion to the federal government, according to the report.
It's not known if the federal government has the authority to withhold the grant. The New York Times noted that the department is also "actively exploring every legal option" to take back $2.5 billion in federal grant funds already given to the state for the rail line.