Feb. 26 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 7:05 a.m. EST

Here are 10 things you should know for Wednesday, Feb. 26:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures were pointing higher Wednesday ahead of new-home sales data and earnings from a number of retailers.

European stocks were moving lower in trading on Wednesday. Asian stocks ended the session mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.5%.

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

3.-- U.S. stocks on Tuesday closed lower as consumer confidence ultimately weighed on a choppy trading session in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed off 0.17% to 16,179.66, while the S&P 500 lost 0.13% to finish at 1,845.12. The Nasdaq dropped 0.13 to 4,287.59.

4.-- Japanese authorities have begun looking into the regulation of bitcoin, a day after Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox shut its Web site and halted trading, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Japan's top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Wednesday the government was looking into the matter, collecting information through the Financial Services Agency, the Ministry of Finance and the police. "The government will take measures if necessary once we have an assessment of the situation," he said.

The Journal also reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed Mt. Gox this month, asking it to preserve certain documents, among other things. The newspaper cited a person familiar with the matter.

5.-- Bank of America  (BAC) is facing new probes into its mortgage practices as well as its foreign exchange business.

The bank said in a regulatory filing late Tuesday that it was cooperating with government authorities in North America, Europe and Asia. The authorities are investigating a "significant" number of participants in the foreign exchange markets for their conduct over a number of years.

Bank of America also said the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York is conducting an investigation concerning its compliance with the requirements of the Federal Housing Administration's Direct Endorsement Program and the quality of mortgages it passed along to the government-backed mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The bank also increased its estimate of possible losses from legal actions against it to $6.1 billion from $5.1 billion for the end of the third quarter.

The stock rose 0.1% in premarket trading on Wednesday.

6. -- Target (TGT) said Wednesday that the massive data breach over the holidays pushed fourth-quarter profit down 46%.

Target earned $520 million, or 81 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, down from year-earlier earnings of $961 million, or $1.47 a share. Revenue fell to $21.5 billion from $22.7 billion.

Analysts expected earnings of 79 cents a share on revenue of $21.45 billion.

The company also provided a profit outlook for the current quarter that was below Wall Street estimates.

Target shares fell 0.1% in premarket trading.

-- Lowe's (LOW) reported on Wednesday fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 31 cents a share, matching analysts' estimates, on revenue of $11.66 billion, up 6% from a year earliuer. Analysts were looking for revenue of $11.67 billion.

The home-improvement retailer also announced a new $5 billion stock repurchase program.

The stock rose 3.3% to $49.69 in premarket trading.

Rival Home Depot (HD) on Tuesday reported that fourth-quarter net income fell 1%, but earnings topped estimates and the company raised its quarterly dividend by 21%.

8.-- Struggling retailer J.C. Penney (JCP) is forecast to post a fourth-quarter loss on Wednesday of 85 cents a share.

9. -- JPMorgan's (JPM) chief compliance officer, Cindy Armine, left the nation's largest bank for a position with another company, a company memo said, the Journal reported. 

Armine was in the post for roughly one year. The new company wasn't named in the memo, but people familiar with the move expect her to take a job with First Data, the Atlanta payment processor run by former JP Morgan executive Frank Bisignano, the Journal reported. 

10.-- Billions of dollars in U.S. taxes are going unpaid because Americans are exploiting Swiss bank accounts, and the U.S. government has failed to aggressively pursue Credit Suisse (CS), Switzerland's second-largest bank, a Senate investigation has found.

Four executives of Credit Suisse, including CEO Brady Dougan, are expected to testify Wednesday at a by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. 

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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