March 17 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 7 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Monday, March 17:   

1.-- U.S. stock futures were rising as investors shrugged off a vote in Crimea to split from Ukraine.

European stocks were higher while Asian markets ended the day mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3%.

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Monday includes the Empire State Manufacturing Index for March at 8:30 a.m. EDT, capacity utilization and industrial production for February at 9:15 a.m., and the NAHB Housing Market Index for March at 10 a.m.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Friday closed lower ahead of the vote in Crimea on whether to split from Ukraine. Also influencing the cautious investor stance was a decline in producer prices and a disappointing consumer confidence report on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.27% to 16,065.67, while the  S&P 500 lost 0.28% to finish at 1,841.13. The  Nasdaq dropped 0.35% to 4,245.40. The  Dow, S&P and Nasdaq for the week tumbled 2.35%, 1.97% and 1.43%, respectively.

4.-- Crimeans, in a weekend vote, opted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.

An overwhelming number of voters in the Ukrainian region approved splitting off and joining Russia in Sunday's vote.

The U.S. has threatened Russia with sanctions should it annex Crimea. President Obama and other top U.S. officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.

5. -- Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, confirmed plans to go public on a U.S. stock exchange, possibly raising up to $15 billion in the biggest initial public offering since Facebook.

The announcement ended months of speculation over where the company would list after talks for an initial public offering in Hong Kong fell apart last year.

The company is one of the world's biggest Internet companies and said more than $150 billion worth of merchandise changes hands on its online platforms each year, more than Amazon and eBay combined.

Reuters reported, citing sources, that Alibaba is in discussions with Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley for lead underwriting roles.

Yahoo! (YHOO) owns a 24% stake in Alibaba. Yahoo! shares rose 3.1% in premarket trading to $38.78.

6. -- Vodafone (VOD), the U.K. telecommunications giant, agreed Monday to buy Ono, Spain's largest cable operator, for 7.2 billion euros ($10 billion) as it seeks to expand operations in its primary European market.

Vodafone rose 1.4% to $37.51 in premarket trading.

7. -- Rental car company Hertz (HTZ) is preparing to spin off its construction equipment rental business in a deal expected to value the division at about $4.5 billion, The Financial Times reported.

The stock rose 7% to $27.80 in premarket trading on Monday

8. -- UPS (UPS) said it is raising rates for heavy freight shipping by 4.4%. The rates for non-contract less-than-truckload shipping will increase on March 31.

9. -- Toyota (TM) said Monday it shut down production at its two auto-assembly plants in India, locking out 6,400 workers amid testy wage negotiations and allegations of threats against management.

10.-- Guinness, the Irish brewer, said Sunday it pulled its sponsorship of the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York because of the parade's exclusion of gays and lesbians. 

"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year's parade," the brewer said in a written statement issued by a spokesman for Guinness' parent company, Diageo (DEO).

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

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