Here are five things you must know for Monday, March 19: 

1. -- Stocks Slide

U.S. stock futures were falling on Monday, March 19, and stocks in Asia and Europe moved mostly to the downside as investors digested a series of major geopolitical developments over the weekend and prepped for what could be the first of as many of four rate hikes from the Federal Reserve later this week.

Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 145 points, while those linked to the S&P 500 declined 17.15 points.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, added 0.03% to trade at 90.22 early Monday, while benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries traded at 2.863% as investors factored in both the expected Fed rate hike on Wednesday, March 21 -- the first under new Chairman Jerome Powell -- and took cash out of the yen amid an ongoing political scandal over a land deal in Japan that appeared to be threatening the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Monday is light. However, Wall Street might be paying attention to comments from Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who will participate in a conference in Miami ahead of the two-day meeting of the central bank that begins on Tuesday, March 20.

Earnings are expected Monday from Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ) .

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2. -- Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

Facebook Inc. (FB) disclosed that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which had ties to the Trump campaign, improperly obtained and failed to destroy private data on 50 million users.

Lawmakers called it a data breach and took to Twitter to blast the company. They called for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Facebook said that Cambridge University professor Aleksandr Kogan, who used an app on the social media network to gather information from 270,000 users who volunteered for a "personality test,"  lied to the company when he then shared that data, as well as information on the volunteers' friends, with Cambridge Analytica, which then allegedly used it on behalf of the 2016 election campaign of Donald Trump. News of the potential misuse of the data was first reported by The New York Times.

"The claim that this is a data breach is completely false," said Paul Grewal, Facebook's vice president and general counsel. "Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent. People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked."

The stock was down 3.7% in premarket trading.

Facebook is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB? Learn more now.

3. -- Court Fight Over AT&T-Time Warner Merger to Begin

A trial over the Department of Justice's lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.'s (T)  $85 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. (TWX) begins this week in Washington.

The Department of Justice's lawsuit filed in November argued that AT&T and Time Warner were likely to abuse their power in content production and distribution, and charge competitors to DirecTV more for Turner Networks channels such as CNN, TBS and TNT. Consumers would pay the price through higher bills for cable or streaming service.

Post-merger AT&T also could stop rivals from providing free HBO to gain subscribers, the government argued.

AT&T and Time Warner said the deal would allow them to compete with Netflix Inc. (NFLX) , Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL)   and YouTube, and would benefit consumers. Advertising technology will allow it to shift costs from consumers to advertisers, AT&T and Time Warner said.

Amazon and Alphabet are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells the stock? Learn more now.

4. -- Google Looks to Cash In on Product Searches

Google has teamed up with retailers including Target Corp. (TGT) , Walmart Inc. (WMT) , Home Depot Inc. (HD) and others under a new program in which retailers can list their products on Google Search, as well as on the Google Express shopping service, and Google Assistant on mobile phones and voice devices.

In exchange for Google listings and linking to retailer loyalty programs, the retailers pay Google a piece of each purchase, which is different from payments that retailers make to place ads on Google platforms, according to a report from Reuters.

The previously unreported initiative sprang from Google's observation that tens of millions of consumers were sending image searches of products, asking "Where can I buy this?" "Where can I find it?" "How can I buy it?" "How do I transact?" Daniel Alegre, Google's president for retail and shopping, told Reuters exclusively.

5. -- Alibaba to Invest $2 Billion More in Lazada

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA)  is doubling down on Southeast Asia, investing another $2 billion in e-commerce subsidiary Lazada Group and naming trusted confidante Lucy Peng as its CEO, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The investment comes on top of the $2 billion the Chinese e-commerce giant has invested in Lazada since buying a majority stake in 2016.

Singapore-based Lazada operates online marketplaces in six Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia.

American depositary receipts of Alibaba fell 1.2% in premarket trading on Monday.

This article has been updated with fresh stock market prices. 

 

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