Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Wall Street set to open higher, breaking a multiday losing streak
- Lowe's shares jump on better-than-expected earnings, forward guidance
- Weekly mortgage applications drop to lowest level in more than 2 years
- Ukraine issues warnings after weeks of reassurances over Russia
- New daily Covid cases plunge 90% as U.S. turns corner on omicron
1. Wall Street set to open higher, breaking a multiday losing streak
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U.S. stock futures bounced Wednesday after the S&P 500 closed in correction territory as tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated. The Dow on Tuesday fell 483 points, or 1.4%, for its fourth straight negative session. At one point the 30-stock average had been down more than 700 points. The S&P 500 dropped 1% for its third straight loss. The Nasdaq shed 1.2% for its fourth straight negative session. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday afternoon a first batch of sanctions against Russia for its Ukraine incursion.
2. Lowe's shares jump on better-than-expected earnings, forward guidance
Lowe's on Wednesday surpassed quarterly earnings and revenue expectations and raised its full-year forecast for each, as Americans buy, fix up and renovate their homes in a tight real estate market. The company's shares rose 3% in premarket trading, as the home improvement retailer said momentum carried into February. Lowe's quarterly same-store sales in the U.S. increased a better-than-expected 5.1%. For the year, the company projects same-store sales will range from a decline of 1% to a rise of 1% versus a 0.7% increase.
3. Weekly mortgage applications drop to lowest level in more than 2 years
Climbing mortgage rates are hitting both potential homebuyers and refinance candidates. Total mortgage applications decreased 13.1% last week to their lowest level since December 2019, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refis dropped 15% last week. Home prices have been climbing steadily during Covid and didn't let up last year. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 18.8% nationally in 2021 compared with a 10.4% gain in 2020.
4. Ukraine issues warnings after weeks of reassurances over Russia
After weeks of trying to project calm, Ukraine on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave Russia. Ukraine is also set to impose a state of emergency. Hopes for a diplomatic way out of a new, potentially devastating war appeared to fade as the U.S. and key allies on Tuesday levied punitive economic measures and accused Moscow of crossing a red line by rolling over Ukraine's border into the separatist Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Russia on Monday recognized the independence of those breakaway areas. The U.S. held back even tougher sanctions waiting to see Russia's next move.
5. New daily Covid cases plunge 90% as U.S. turns corner on omicron
The U.S. has turned the corner on the omicron wave, with new daily Covid infections plummeting 90% from a pandemic high less than six weeks ago. The U.S. is reporting about 84,000 new cases per day on average, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down from a pandemic high of more than 800,000 daily cases on Jan. 15. States and the federal government are trying to move past the crisis mentality that has gripped the nation for two years.