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What to Watch Today: Dow Set to Add to Wednesday's Record High Close

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BY THE NUMBERS

Dow futures rose about 100 points Thursday, one day after the 30-stock average surged 1.5% to close at a record high as falling bond yields and the newly passed Covid stimulus package spurred equity buying. The Nasdaq took a breather after Tuesday's nearly 3.7% rally. However, tech stocks, including Apple and Tesla, were popping in Thursday's premarket, sending Nasdaq futures up more than 200 points or 1.6%. (CNBC)

The Labor Department on Thursday reported 712,000 new filings for unemployment benefits during the week ended March 6. That's fewer than estimates of 725,000, but still well above pre-pandemic levels. The 10-year Treasury yield was under pressure ahead of the weekly initial jobless claims data and remained so afterwards, trading around 1.5% on Thursday, retreating from one-year highs above 1.6% in recent days. (CNBC)

* U.S. unemployment system fell short in early days of the pandemic. It could buckle again (CNBC)

Shares of Roblox, a kids gaming app that surged in popularity during the pandemic, jumped another 10% in the premarket after one of Cathie Wood's popular Ark funds bought the stock on its first day. The direct listing soared over 54% in Wednesday's trading from its reference price of $45 per share, giving it a market value of more than $38 billion. (CNBC)

Coupang is set to make its Wall Street debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday after the South Korean e-commerce company priced its 130 million share IPO at $35 per share. That's above the expected range of $32 to $34. Coupang raised $4.6 billion in the largest U.S. initial public offering so far this year. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver a prime-time address Thursday night, to talk about the next phase of the U.S. response to Covid, one year since the World Health Organization declared the spread of the coronavirus a pandemic. (CNBC)

Biden tomorrow plans to sign the $1.9 trillion relief package, which passed the Democratic-held House on Wednesday and Senate on Saturday with no Republican votes. The plan includes a federal unemployment benefits boost, direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, tax credit expansions, and funds for vaccine distribution and state and local governments. (CNBC)

* First $1,400 stimulus checks will go to those with direct deposit (CNBC)
* New stimulus checks could be garnished for unpaid debts (CNBC)
* Parents could start receiving the new $3,000 child tax credit by summer (CNBC)

The past year of the pandemic saw over 118 million global Covid infections and 2.6 million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. accounted for 24% of the world's cases and at least 529,267, or about 20%, of the fatalities. There were 58,611 new infections in America on Wednesday, slightly above the seven-day average but down 80% from single-day peak on Jan. 2.

The CDC's numbers show that nearly 33 million people, or almost 10% of the U.S. population, have been fully vaccinated. The U.S. has approved three vaccines for emergency use: Two-shot regimens from Pfizer and Moderna and a one-shot course from Johnson & Johnson.

* J&J's one-shot Covid vaccine cleared for authorization in the EU (CNBC)
* Texas opens Covid vaccine eligibility wider as mask mandate ends, businesses open (CNBC)
* States lift Covid restrictions despite warnings from Biden officials (CNBC)

Denmark temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca's (AZN) Covid vaccine following reported cases of blood clots. The suspension will last for 14 days while regulators investigate. AstraZeneca said it maintains strict quality controls and that there had been no serious adverse events associated with the vaccine. AstraZeneca lost 1.5% in premarket trading. (CNBC)

Vir Biotechnology (VIR) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said their Covid-19 antibody treatment reduced hospitalizations and death from the disease by 85% in a clinical trial. The drug makers said they'll immediately seek emergency use authorization for the drug in the U.S. and other countries. Vir shares soared 60% premarket. GSK shares were little change. (Reuters)

AMC Entertainment (AMC) jumped 6.5% premarket after saying the Covid vaccine rollout and upcoming major releases would boost movie theater ticket sales this year. That followed a quarterly loss that nonetheless saw better-than-expected revenue. AMC said 8 million patrons returned to its theaters during the most recent quarter. (CNBC)

* Movie theaters in Los Angeles could reopen as soon as Saturday (CNBC)

The group of activist investors looking to seize control of Kohl's (KSS) board reduced the number of directors that it plans to nominate, to five from nine. Kohl's has a 12-member board. Kohl's was quick to reject the initial proposal late last month, arguing it would disrupt the momentum the retailer has seen in its business. (CNBC)

Facebook (FB) has asked a court to dismiss state and federal antitrust lawsuits that accuse it of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors. The social media giant said the complaints "do not credibly claim" that its conduct harmed either consumers or market competition. (AP)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Bumble (BMBL) beat Wall Street's revenue estimates in its first quarter as a public company, and gave an upbeat projection for the current quarter. The dating service company said it expects pent-up demand from people who had been reluctant to date during the pandemic. Bumble shares surged 9% premarket.

Oracle (ORCL) reported an adjusted quarterly profit of $1.16 per share, 5 cents above estimates. The business software giant's revenue was slightly above forecasts. However, revenue in Oracle's cloud division fell short of projections, and Oracle shares fell 5.4% premarket. Oracle also increased its dividend by 33% and increased its share buyback program by $20 billion.

Cloudera (CLDR) beat estimates by 4 cents with adjusted quarterly earnings of 15 cents per share, and revenue above estimates as well. However, the data cloud company also gave weaker-than-expected forecasts for both profit and revenue, and its shares tumbled 7% premarket.

JD.com (JD), the China-based e-commerce company, saw its shares rise 7.9% premarket after it reported better-than-expected profit and revenue for its latest quarter. It gained shoppers even as China largely emerged from coronavirus lockdowns.

Boeing (BA) is close to finalizing a multi-billion dollar order for its 737 Max jets from Southwest Airlines (LUV), according to a Reuters report. It would be the largest order for the Max since the fleet was ungrounded, and also would stave off a possible defection to rival Airbus by Southwest. Boeing rose 2.1% premarket.

MSG Networks (MSGN) is considering merging with Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE), according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg. Such a deal would reverse a prior split of the two entities. MSG Networks jumped 4.6% premarket, while Madison Square Garden Entertainment jumped 7.4%.

Party City (PRTY) shares tumbled 10% premarket after the party supplies retailer reported quarterly earnings of 25 cents per share, missing forecasts by 6 cents. Party City's revenue matched Wall Street forecasts, but its same-store sales decline of 5.9% was slightly larger than the Refinitiv consensus estimate of a 5.2% decline.

WATERCOOLER

Jeep's long-awaited Grand Wagoneer SUV will push the American quintessential off-road brand further into luxury vehicles. Starting pricing for the large three-row SUV ranges from roughly $87,000 to $104,000. A fully loaded model will top $111,000, according to Jeep. The Grand Wagoneer will be the sibling to a less expensive vehicle called the Wagoneer. Both SUVs go on sale later this year. (CNBC)

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