Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, March 27:
1. -- Stocks Turn Lower as Investors Eye Bond Market Moves
U.S. stock futures turned lower on Wednesday and global stocks again edged cautiously higher as investors tracked moves in the bond market amid weakening economic data in the United States and stalled China trade talks.
U.S. Treasury bond yields continued to dictate sentiment. The yield gap between three-month Treasury bills and 10-year notes extended to minus 10 basis points, creating a so-called inverted yield curve that Federal Reserve studies have shown to predate every U.S. recession for the past 60 years.
A steeper-than-expected decline in profits for China's major industrial companies, which fell 14% over the first two months of the year to a 2011 low, rattled regional investors who have been concerned over a lack of progress in trade talks between Washington and Beijing. China stocks rebounded, though, on hopes the government would deepen its fiscal response to the slowest pace of growth for the world's second-largest economy in several decades.
In the U.S., contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell60 22 points, S&P 500 futures slipped 3.75 points, and Nasdaq futures were down 2 points. Stocks rose Tuesday with the S&P 500 closing higher for the first time in three sessions.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes the International Trade Balance for January at 8:30 a.m. ET, and Oil Inventories for the week ended March 22 at 10:30 a.m.
Lennar (LEN) - Get Lennar Corporation Class A Report posted modestly weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings as slow housing starts hit the second-largest U.S. homebuilder's bottom line even as mortgage rates eased.
Earnings reports are expected also Wednesday from Five Below (FIVE) - Get Five Below Inc. Report , Lululemon Athletica (LULU) - Get lululemon athletica inc. Report , PVH Corp. (PVH) - Get PVH Corp. Report and Paychex (PAYX) - Get Paychex Inc. Report .
2. -- Apple Avoids iPhone Import Ban
Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report rose 0.4% in premarket trading Wednesday after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled against banning imports of some of its iPhones linked to a complicated patent dispute with Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get QUALCOMM Incorporated Report .
The ruling late Tuesday in Washington followed an earlier, non-binding decision on a separate dispute between the two companies, which centers on allegations that Apple infringed on Qualcomm's patent rights, that went in favor of the San Diego-based chipmaker.
The full ITC panel overruled a September decision that would have banned the import of Apple's iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X that contained chips made by Intel (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report . Apple can have the separate, non-binding decision from ITC Judge MaryJoan McNamara reviewed by the full panel of the ITC in a few months.
"We're pleased the ITC has found Qualcomm's latest patent claims invalid, it's another important step to making sure American companies are able to compete fairly in the marketplace," Apple said in a statement. "Qualcomm is using these cases to distract from having to answer for the real issues, their monopolistic business practices."
Qualcomm said the full ITC decision was "inconsistent with the recent unanimous jury verdict finding infringement of the same patent after Apple abandoned its invalidity defense at the end of trial" and said it would "seek reconsideration by the Commission in view of the jury verdict," a reference to a victory it won in rederal court in San Diego earlier in March.
3. -- Centene to Buy Smaller Rival WellCare Health Plans
Centene (CNC) - Get Centene Corporation Report reached a deal to acquire smaller rival WellCare Health Plans (WCG) - Get WellCare Health Plans, Inc. Report in a transaction with a total enterprise value of $17.3 billion.
Centene will acquire WellCare in a cash-and-stock transaction for $305.39 a share based on Centene's closing price Tuesday of $54.85. WellCare shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 3.38 shares of Centene common stock and $120 in cash for each WellCare common share.
The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies. Centene and WellCare expect to complete the merger in the first half of 2020.
The combined company would have about 22 million members across all 50 U.S. states. The combined company also would have estimated pro forma revenue in 2019 of approximately $97 billion and $5 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
Shares of WellCare, the managed-care provider, jumped 23.5% to $285.51 in premarket trading on Wednesday.
Bloomberg had first reported the companies were holding merger talks.
4. -- Hearing Set for April 4 in SEC's Lawsuit vs Tesla's Elon Musk
Federal Judge Alison Nathan set a hearing in the case for Thursday, April 4.
SEC lawyers moved late last month to have Musk found in contempt of court because Twitter posts the CEO issued about production numbers weren't reviewed by corporate authorities.
Musk previously had agreed to have his tweets about Tesla reviewed as part of a settlement of a securities fraud case with the SEC in September. That deal, which included $20 million fines for Musk and Tesla, came after the CEO tweeted falsely that he had financing to take the electric vehicle compnay private at $420 a share.
In a court filing earlier this month, the SEC called the billionaire's behavior in February "stunning" given the settlement he agreed to last September.
Attorneys for Musk countered that the "SEC's position is wrong at virtually every level," in their own legal filings last week.
5. -- Dow Inc. Will Replace DowDuPont in DJIA
Dow Inc. will replace DowDuPont undefined in the Dow Jones Industrial Average before the start of trading on April 2, said S&P Dow Jones Indices.
The move will take place because of DowDuPont's breakup into three smaller companies called Dow, DuPont and Corteva Agriscience.
DowDuPont was formed in 2017 when chemical giants Dow Chemical and DuPont merged.
S&P Dow Jones Indices said Dow Inc. likely will carry a similar price weight to the current DowDuPont.
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