Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, March 20:
1. -- Stocks Turn Lower Ahead of Fed's Interest Rates Decision
U.S. stock futures were down slightly on Wednesday, as investors awaited a key decision on interest rates and bond sales from the Federal Reserve and reacted to reports of potential tension in U.S.-China trade talks.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 17 points, futures for the S&P 500 slipped 1.75 points, and Nasdaq futures were down 4.75 points.
The Fed is expected to announce its decision on rates at 2 p.m. ET, with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell scheduled to lead a press briefing afterward. Investors anticipate no change in the Fed's key policy rate - which sits in the range of 2.25% to 2.5% - but rather a signal of slower increases in the near term following four rate hikes in 2018. Wall Street also expects an easing in the pace of sales of bonds sitting on the Fed's $3.8 trillion balance sheet, which act as de facto interest rate increases in the broader economy.
Stocks in the U.S. closed mixed Tuesday, with the Dow snapping a four-day winning streak, following reports that China may be pushing back against American trade talk demands ahead of meetings next week in Beijing that are expected to include U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes Oil Inventories for the week ended March 15 at 10:30 a.m.
2. -- FedEx Sinks After Issuing Second Profit Warning for Fiscal 2019
FedEx (FDX) - Get Report declined sharply in premarket trading Wednesday after the company cut its fiscal 2019 profit forecast for the second time in three months after posting weaker-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings.
FedEx said it expects earnings for fiscal 2019, which ends in May, in the region of $15.10 to $15.90 a share, down from its December forecast of $15.50 to $16.60 and 7 cents shy of analysts' forecasts. The Memphis-based company said challenges linked to its $4.8 billion acquisition of TNT Express, a key component of its international business, continues to weigh on profits, as will a broader global slowdown in trade and package demand.
"Part of the problem about reporting quarterly earnings is, you're looking in the rearview mirror. The facts of the matter are that we actually are seeing a few green sprouts now as we go into the spring," CEO Fred Smith told investors on a conference call late Tuesday.
"And quite frankly, we're under-reported I think because of the government shutdown and the trade issues. This was a very, very tough operational winter and in some cases unprecedented, but again somewhat under-reported," he added. "So, we are seeing some pickup across the Pacific. Our package business in Europe is now growing again. And so, we're feeling a little better about things. And obviously, the range of the fourth quarter and the fiscal year is related to our caution."
FedEx fell 6.9% to $168.95 before markets opened Wednesday.
For its fiscal third quarter, FedEx earned $3.03 a share on an adjusted basis, below forecasts of $3.11, while revenue rose to $17 billion from $16.5 billion but missed forecasts of $17.6 billion.
3. -- AMD Rises After Its Chips Picked to Run Google's Stadia Gaming Platform
Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Report Google unveiled its new cloud-based video-game playing and sharing platform, Stadia, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, and the new platform will be powered by chips made by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - Get Report .
Stadia, which is expected to launch sometime this year, will allow players to instantly join games they view on YouTube via a "Play Now" button in the corner of the screen. Games will be available to play on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, TV sets and phones without requiring a console. Google also has made a custom Stadia Controller that connects directly via Wifi to a Stadia game-playing session; it will have one button to share content with other users, and another to connect with Google Assistant.
AMD shares extended gains in premarket trading Wednesday, rising 2%, after Google said the chipmaker's Radeon GPUs, as well as its developer tools, will be used in the Stadia platform. The stock jumped nearly 12% in Tuesday's session after the announcement.
AMD will provide its custom-made chip for the Google Stadia rollout, along with software development tools and an open-sourced Vulkan driver, as it seeks to keep pace with rival Nvidia's (NVDA) - Get Report GeForce Now cloud gaming service. AMD CEO Lisa Su told investors in January that datacenter and GPU growth were key to the company's improved earnings guidance.
4. -- Sage Therapeutics Jumps on FDA Approval of Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Sage Therapeutics (SAGE) - Get Report jumped 3% in premarket trading Wednesday after the Food and Drug Administration approved the company's drug treatment for postpartum depression, a type of mood disorder that could affect some women following childbirth.
The drug, called Zulresso, is the first from the biotech company to win approval from the FDA. Zulresso, also known as brexanolone, also is the first treatment for the condition to win approval.
Pospartum depression is a major depressive episode that occurs following childbirth, the FDA said in a press release. In severe cases, patients can contemplate suicide or harming their infants.
The new drug will be administered as an IV infusion over two-and-a-half days, Sage Therapeutics said.
The treatment will cost $7,450 per vial, or $34,000 for a patient's average course of therapy, before any discounts, Sage Therapeutics said.
5. -- Jury Finds Bayer's Roundup Herbicide Caused Man's Cancer
A federal court jury found that Bayer's (BAYRY) Roundup herbicide was a factor in causing a California man's cancer, setting the stage for a second phase to determine liability and damages.
It's the second second case to go to trial over the alleged harms of weedkiller.
The six-person jury in U.S. District Court in San Francisco will now begin hearing evidence to separately weigh whether Bayer's Monsanto unit should be held liable, a decision that could bring substantial financial damages against the company, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Bayer completed its acquisition of Monsanto, which created the widely used Roundup herbicide, last year.
More than 11,000 lawsuits have been filed claiming Roundup caused cancer, but most haven't gone to trial yet.
Bayer said it was "disappointed with the jury's initial decisions, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer." The company insisted that the finding "has no impact on future cases and trials because each one has its own factual and legal circumstances."
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