Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, Feb. 27:
1. -- Stock Futures Point Lower on Mixed Data
U.S. stock futures pointed lower on Wednesday, Feb. 27, and global stocks were mixed as investors sifted through dovish testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and conflicting U.S. economic data.
Powell's testimony to the Senate Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Tuesday, which will be followed Wednesday by an appearance before a similar quorum in the House, did offer investors some respite from concerns that the central bank was still aiming toward a late 2019 interest rate increase, telling lawmakers he was in "no rush to make a judgment" on that given the mixed data points in the world's biggest economy.
Powell said the "baseline outlook is a good one" but cautioned on moderating growth in major economies around the world.
"We have the makings of a good outlook and our (rate-setting) committee is really monitoring the crosscurrents, the risks, and for now we are going to be patient with our policy and allow things to take time to clarify," Powell said.
As for data points, the Commerce Department said Tuesday that housing starts fell 11.2% in December and came in at the lowest level in two years. That, however, was followed by a robust rebound in the Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence for February, suggesting solid resilience in the economy's most important sector.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 60 points, futures for the S&P 500 declined 5.25 points, and Nasdaq futures were down 12.25 points.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes International Trade in Goods for December at 8:30 a.m. ET, Factory Orders for December at 8:30 a.m., the Pending Home Sales Index for January at 10 a.m., and Oil Inventories for the week ended Feb. 22, at 10:30 a.m.
Powell's testimony Wednesday before the House Finance Committee is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
2. -- Lowe's, TJX and Best Buy Report Earnings
The stock was rising 1.6% in premarket trading.
Lowe's said earnings for the three months ended were 80 cents a share, 1 cent ahead of the consensus forecast. Revenue was $15.6 billion and narrowly missed analysts' estimates of $15.75 billion. Same-store sales in the United States rose 1.7%, missing the Refinitv forecast of around 2%.
Lowe's also reiterated its 2019 outlook, which sees full-year sales rising 2%, adding that "U.S. macroeconomic fundamentals remain sound" while cautioning that its Canadian business would face "continued weakness in the housing market."
Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report reported stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and forecast solid full-year profit as softer mobile phone sales were offset by gains in wearables, appliances and gaming. The stock jumped 10.2%.
Earnings reports are also expected from TJX (TJX) - Get Report , Monster Beverage (MNST) - Get Report , L Brands (LB) - Get Report , Campbell Soup (CPB) - Get Report , Fitbit (FIT) - Get Report , HP (HPQ) - Get Report , Square (SQ) - Get Report and Booking Holdings (BKNG) - Get Report .
3. -- Palo Alto Networks Rallies After Earnings Smash Estimates
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) - Get Report was rising 10.7% in premarket trading Wednesday after the cybersecurity company posted fiscal second-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.51 a share, smashing analysts' estimates of $1.22, as revenue of $711.2 million beat forecasts of $682.1 million.
"We remain focused on delivering to our customers the best security in the market," said Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks, in a statement.
Palo Alto Networks said it expects third-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.23 to $1.25 a share on revenue of $697 million to $707 million. Analysts forecast earnings of $1.25 a share on revenue of $696.7 million.
The company also announced that its board approved a $1 billion share repurchase program.
"Overall, Palo Alto checked off the boxes in nearly all the key categories: strong top- and bottom-line beats, margin upside, robust billings growth and free cash flow, new platform announcements, etc, wrote Jim Cramer and the Action Alerts PLUS team, which holds Palo Alto in its portfolio. "Given the size and scale of the company, the growth totals this quarter (30% revenue, 27% billings, and 33% product) were quite a feat. That's a tribute to the company's platform and the company being the best-in-class provider in a constantly evolving, high demand industry.
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4. -- Weight Watchers Plunges on Weak Outlook
Weight Watchers International (WTW) - Get Report plunged 34.9% in premarket trading after its outlook for the year was well below analysts' forecasts but noted that celebrity backer Oprah Winfrey would front the company's upcoming promotional campaign.
The company posted fourth-quarter earnings of 63 cents a share vs. 91 cents a year earlier but above forecasts of 60 cents. Revenue of $330.4 million came in below estimates of $347 million.
Weight Watchers said it expects earnings for the year of between $1.25 and $1.50 a share, well below estimates of about $3.38. Sales were forecast at $1.4 billion vs. estimates of $1.7 billion.
"After an outstanding year for WW in 2018, our start to 2019 and winter recruitment performance has been very disappointing, as reflected in the financial outlook we are providing today," CEO Mindy Grossman told investors on a conference call late Tuesday. "In our spring marketing, our ambassadors will be featured in a multi-platform campaign in most major markets."
"Oprah will play a central role in our marketing campaigns in the U.S., Canada and Australia, bringing to life a clear message on how WW is the program for everyone who wants to lose weight and get healthier," Grossman added.
5. -- Boeing Sells 100 737 MAX Planes to VietJet for $12.7 Billion
Boeing (BA) - Get Report confirmed Wednesday that Vietnamese carrier VietJet purchased 100 additional 737 MAX airplanes worth $12.7 billion.
The latest deal takes Vietjet's MAX order book to 200 jets, and includes 80 of the new, larger MAX 10 variant, Boeing said in a press release.
The deal was announced in Vietnam on the sidelines of the summit between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi.
"We are pleased to expand our partnership with Vietjet and to support their impressive growth with new, advanced airplanes such as the 737 MAX. We are confident the MAX will help Vietjet grow more efficiently and provide great travel experiences for their passengers," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister.
Bamboo Airways, another Vietnamese airline, announced a deal to buy 10 wide-bodied 787 Boeing planes worth $2.9 billion, according to Reuters.