Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended lower, while the Nasdaq gained after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the House Ways and Means committee that "much remains to be done" before a trade deal is reached with China.
  • Lowe's (LOW - Get Report)  posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but noted weakness in Canada's housing market would continue over the near term. The stock rose 2.5%.
  • Best Buy's (BBY - Get Report) earnings were stronger than expected and the electronics retailer forecast solid full-year profit as softer mobile phone sales were offset by gains in wearables, appliances and gaming. Best Buy rose 14.1%.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, Feb. 27, after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the House Ways and Means committee that "much remains to be done" to reach a trade deal with China.

China's increased purchases of U.S. goods wouldn't be enough by themselves to reach a permanent trade deal, Lighthizer told the committee. 

"This administration is pressing for significant structural changes that would allow for a more level playing field -- especially when it comes to issues of intellectual property rights and technology transfers," Lighthizer said Wednesday.

Donald Trump said earlier this week he would delay increasing tariffs on China-made goods, set to kick in on March 1, following "substantial progress" over two weeks of trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 73 points, or 0.28%, to 25,985, the S&P 500 was down 0.05%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.07%.

Investors had more on their plates Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified for a second day before Congress and Wall Street  monitored the president's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam and border violence between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

Powell's testimony to the Senate Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Tuesday, which was followed Wednesday by his appearance before a similar panel in the House, offered investors some respite from concerns that the central bank was still aiming toward a late 2019 interest rate increase. He told lawmakers he was in "no rush to make a judgment" on that given the mixed data points in the world's biggest economy.

On Wednesday, Trump's economic policies were slammed at the Powell hearing. The president's erratic policies have hurt the U.S. economy so deeply that they're largely responsible for interrupting the Fed's efforts to restore monetary policy to normal following the unprecedented actions taken following the financial crisis of 2008, said U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, the California Democrat. Waters recently took leadership of the House committee overseeing the Federal Reserve.

Lowe's (LOW - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but noted weakness in Canada's housing market would continue over the near term.

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."

The stock rose 2.5%.

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 14.1%.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW - Get Report)  gained 8.2% Wednesday after the cybersecurity company posted fiscal second-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.51 a share, beating 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.

"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.

Weight Watchers International (WTW)  tumbled 34.5% after it issued an outlook for the year that 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.

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