Feb. 21 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Here are 10 things you should know for Friday, Feb. 21:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher open for Wall Street on Friday ahead of housing market data.

Asian shares ended the session mostly to the upside. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 2.9% as the central bank signaled its monetary stimulus measures could continue for longer than markets are anticipating.

European stocks were posting slight gains.

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Friday includes existing-home sales for January at 10 a.m. EST.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Thursday rose as U.S. manufacturing data improved in February.

The  Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.58% to 16,133.23, while the  S&P 500 rose 0.6% to finish at 1,839.78. The  Nasdaq gained 0.7% to 4,267.54.

4.-- Standard & Poor's said Ukraine will likely default on its debt if there are no significant improvements in the political crisis, which it doesn't expect.

The agency cited the increasing violence between protesters and police as it downgraded the country's rating by a notch to CCC.

Ukraine's government and the opposition are locked in a battle over the country's future. Several regions in the west are in open revolt, while many in eastern Ukraine back the president and favor strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.

5.-- PC maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reported first-quarter earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street estimates. HP also narrowed its full-year guidance.

The PC maker, which is in the throes of a massive corporate overhaul, reported sales of $28.2 billion, down slightly from $28.4 billion in the same period last year. Analysts swere looking for sales of $27.191 billion.

Excluding items, HP earned 90 cents a share, a significant hike from 82 cents a share in the prior year's quarter and above Wall Street's forecast of 84 cents.

For the second quarter, HP said it expects earnings of between 85 cents and 89 cents a share, at the low end of Wall Street's estimate of 89 cents. For fiscal 2014, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company predicted earnings between $3.60 and $3.75 a share, narrower than its previous guidance of $3.55 to $3.75. Analysts were looking for fiscal year earnings of $3.67 a share.

6. -- Daily deals site Groupon (GRPN) said Thursday it earned 4 cents a share in the fourth quarter, topping analysts' estimates of 2 cents. Revenue was $768 million; analysts were expecting $718 million.

But guidance issued by Groupon fell short of Wall Street forecasts. For the first quarter, Groupon said it expects revenue of between $710 million and $760 million, and expects to lose between 2 cents to 4 cents a share. Analysts forecast revenue of $681.2 million and first-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share.

7.-- Under Armour (UA) CEO Kevin Plank said the much-maligned "Mach 39" suit worn by the U.S. speedskating team is a winner, adding that Under Armour will continue to invest in it and tweak if until the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, USA Today reported. Plank also said that on Friday Under Armout will announce that it plans to not only renew its team sponsorship, but double its length through 2022.

8.-- Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.ABusiness Wire has decided to stop giving high-speed traders direct access to corporate earnings and other market-moving news releases after consultations with Berkshire chief Warren Buffett and the New York attorney general's office, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The company said the decision was made after conversations between Business Wire CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and Buffett, whose company bought Business Wire, the press-release distribution company, in 2006.

The conversations with Buffett took place after The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 6 that Business Wire was selling direct access to news releases to high-speed trading firms, as well as to more traditional media and other securities-industry customers.

9.-- Priceline.com (PCLN), the online travel company, reported fourth-quarter earnings of $8.85 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $8.29 a share. Revenue rose to $1.54 billion from $1.9 billion a year earlier; analysts were calling for revenue of $1.52 billion.

For the first quarter, Priceline.com said it expects earnings of between $6.35 and $6.85 a share, and revenue to increase 15% to 25%. Analysts expect earnings of $7.21 a share.

10.-- Family-owned Russell Stover, the third-largest candy producer in the U.S., is on the auction block, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Goldman Sachs is in the early stages of shopping the company, which could sell for more than $1 billion, one of the people told the newspaper.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

To contact the writer of this article, click here:Joseph Woelfel

To submit a news tip, send an email to:tips@thestreet.com.

Follow @josephwoe58


Copyright 2014 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

More from Stocks

Stocks Slide on Renewed Trade War Concerns

Stocks Slide on Renewed Trade War Concerns

Emerging Markets Get Pounded by Global Trade Concerns

Emerging Markets Get Pounded by Global Trade Concerns

Video: Here's Where to Put Your Money Amid Trade War Fears

Video: Here's Where to Put Your Money Amid Trade War Fears

The Single Biggest Reason Trade War Fears Could Finally Topple the Stock Market

The Single Biggest Reason Trade War Fears Could Finally Topple the Stock Market

Activist-Targeted Rent-A-Center Sold to Vintage

Activist-Targeted Rent-A-Center Sold to Vintage