March 12 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 7:03 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Wednesday, March 12:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures were pointing to losses for Wall Street on Wednesday as global markets declined on continued worries over China's economic outlook.

European stocks fell and Asian shares ended the session to the downside. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 1.7% and China's Shanghai Composite declined 0.2%. Japan's Nikkei 225 slid 2.6%.  

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday includes the Treasury Budget for February at 2 p.m. EDT.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Tuesday finished lower as the Ukrainian crisis lingered and concerns remained around Chinese economic growth.

The  Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.41% to close at 16,351.25, while the  S&P 500 dipped  0.51% to 1,867.63. The  Nasdaq dropped 0.63% to 4,307.19.

4.-- Federal prosecutors are examining whether GM (GM) is criminally liable for failing to properly disclose problems with some of its vehicles that were linked to 13 deaths and led to a recall last month, a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters.

The probe is in its early stages, and the source didn't elaborate on the legal theory behind the potential criminal liability, Reuters said.

Federal investigators are reviewing information about how GM handled reports of problems with ignition switches that first surfaced 10 years ago, the source said.

GM shares fell 0.6% in premarket trading to $34.97.

5. -- Men's Wearhouse  (MW) said Tuesday it reached a deal to buy Jos. A. Bank  (JOSB) for $65 a share in cash, or a total of $1.8 billion.

Shares of Men's Wearhouse fell 2.3% in premarket trading to $55.98. Jos. A. Bank shares rose 0.05% to $64.25.

6. -- Tesla (TSLA) called a New Jersey regulation that would require all new car dealers to obtain franchise agreements to receive state licenses an "affront to the very concept of a free market."

The regulation was adopted Tuesday by the state's Motor Vehicle Commission by a 6-0 vote. The ruling effectively prohibits companies from using a direct-sales model. It will take effect April 1.

Tesla doesn't have dealerships which sell cars from auto manufacturers such as GM and Ford but instead has stores placed in malls where consumers can test drive the Model S. 

Tesla shares fell 1.6% to $230.60 in premarket trading on Wednesday.

7. -- A plan to phase out government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae  (FNMA) and Freddie Mac  (FMCC) and instead use mainly private insurers to backstop home loans has advanced in Congress.

The agreement by two key senators and a White House endorsement sent shares of Fannie and Freddie sinking Tuesday. Fannie stock fell $1.79, or more than 30%, to $4.03. Freddie dropped $1.48, or 26.8%, to $4.04.

In premarket trading Wednesday, Fannie fell 13.15% to $3.50; Freddie fell 15.6% to $3.41.

8. -- Microsoft (MSFT) appointed Mason Morfit, president of activist investor ValueAct Capital, as a board member.

The software giant offered Morfit a board seat in August, following months of lobbying by ValueAct for a say on how Microsoft is run, according to Reuters.

9. -- Krispy Kreme  (KKD) is expected on Wednesday to report fourth-quarter profit of 13 cents a share. 

10.-- President Obama notched the lowest job-approval ratings of his presidency in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Obama's job approval fell to 41% in March from 43% in January, marking a new low. Some 54% disapproved of the job he is doing, matching a previous high from December, when the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act played prominently in the news, the poll found. The latest survey also showed the lowest-ever approval in Journal/NBC polling for Obama's handling of foreign policy.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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