US stock futures rose sharply ahead of Friday’s open, boosted by stronger-than-anticipated North American economic growth data, paired with a move from one of the market’s biggest index providers, MSCI, to increase the weighting of Chinese stocks on world benchmarks.

The moves in the pre-market follow better-than-expected US economic growth in the final three months of 2018, which saw US GDP rise +2.9% for the year, just shy of the Trump administration’s 3% target.

Furthermore, stocks were elevated by the MSCI, which compiles equity market benchmarks around the world.

The index provider is set quadruple the weighting of China-listed shares, taking them to 3.3% of the key emerging markets index, from around 0.7%, between now and November.
The provider has said the move could unlock fresh investor inflows of around $80 billion, as fund managers move to re-balance portfolios around the new benchmarks.

These advances in pre-market prove to be a stark contrast from yesterday’s session which saw the S&P 500, on its final trading day of February, chalk up its longest losing streak of 2019 – three sessions.

The S&P 500 finished -0.19% lower, owing to an afternoon fade into the close. Despite this, the benchmark’s final trading session of the month, saw the S&P record a +5.8% gain.

Information Technology (Perf Month, +10.12%) earned its position as the top-performing sector in February, besting Industrial (Perf Month, +8.50%) and Material (Perf Month, +2.73%) shares, which were buoyed by US-China trade deal hopes.
However, big tech names like Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT) are still under-performing the broader market year-to-date.

Going forward, market focus will remain largely attuned to US-China trade developments, amid mixed messages in regards to progress between Washington and Beijing.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump said the US could walk away from a comprehensive agreement with China, if the terms were not good enough.
However, White House economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, has since said talks between high-level officials had been “fantastic”, adding; both sides were on track to reach a “remarkable, historic deal”.

In today’s economic calendar, PCE figures as well as Personal Income and Spending data are set to be released at 8:30am EST, shortly followed by ISM manufacturing data at 10am EST.

In corporate news, Foot Locker (FL), Dentsply Sirona (XRAY) and Tribune Media (TRCO) are amongst the major companies set to release their latest quarterly results before the opening bell.

China & Trade: US Prepares Final China Trade Deal as Hawks Urge Caution. (Blomberg)

US officials are preparing a final trade deal that President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could sign in weeks, people familiar with the matter said, even as a debate continues in Washington over whether to push Beijing for more concessions.

Today’s Economical Announcements

08:30AM – ★★☆ – Core PCE Price Index (YoY) (Dec) (Previous: 1.9%)
08:30AM – ★★☆ – Core PCE Price Index (MoM) (Dec) (Previous: 0.1%)
08:30AM – ★★☆ – PCE Deflator (YoY) (Previous: 1.8%)
08:30AM – ★★☆ – PCE Deflator (MoM) (Previous: 0.1%)
08:30AM – ★☆☆ – Personal Income (MoM) (Dec) (Previous: 0.2%)
08:30AM – ★☆☆ – Personal Income (MoM) (Jan) (Previous: -)
08:30AM – ★★☆ – Personal Spending (MoM) (Dec) (Previous: 0.4%)
10:00AM – ★★☆ – Michigan Consumer Expect. (Feb) (Previous: 86.2)
10:00AM – ★★☆ – Michigan Consumer Sent. (Feb) (Previous: 95.5)
10:00AM – ★★★ – ISM Manufacturing PMI (Feb) (Previous: 56.6)

Pre-Market Movers & News Related Stocks

Gap (GPS): [NEWS & EARNINGS] Gap announced it would split into two separate publicly traded companies. The apparel retailer’s Old Navy unit will become a standalone company, with the Gap and Banana Republic brands remaining. Separately, Gap announced quarterly profit of 72 cents per share, 4 cents a share above estimates. Revenue below forecasts.

Nutanix (NTNX): [EARNINGS] Reported quarterly loss of 23 cents per share, 2 cents a share smaller than Wall Street had expected. Revenue above forecasts. However, the cloud computing company gave a much-weaker-than-expected full-year forecast, with Nutanix saying it is in the process of addressing weaknesses in marketing and sales.

Foot Locker (FL): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.56 per share, compared to the $1.40 a share consensus estimate. Revenue beat estimates.

Tesla (TSLA): [NEWS] Tesla announced that it would sell a $35,000 version of its model 3, that future sales would be online only, and that it did not expect to be profitable during the first quarter. CEO Elon Musk did say he expects the automaker to return to profitability during the second quarter.

Nordstrom (JWN): [EARNINGS] Came in 6 cents a share above estimates, with quarterly earnings of $1.48 per share. Revenue below forecasts. Nordstrom did give a 2019 full-year earnings forecasts that is largely above consensus.

Caesars Entertainment (CZR): [NEWS] The casino operator announced an agreement with investor Carl Icahn, appointing three Icahn nominees to the board to replace three existing directors. Icahn will also have the right to appoint a fourth director if a new CEO who is acceptable to the new directors is not named within 45 days.

Marriott (MAR): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.44 per share, 5 cents a share above estimates. Revenue below forecasts, and the company forecast lower-than-expected full-year profit, as demand weakens in the North American market.

Dell Technologies (DELL): [EARNINGS] Reported better-than-expected revenue in its first report since returning as a public company. Revenue beat forecasts. (AMZN): [NEWS] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been talking to Amazon executives in an attempt to get them to reconsider the decision to abandon a planned headquarters in Long Island City, New York.

AT&T (T): [NEWS] AT&T said HBO CEO Richard Plepler is stepping down, and The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Turner president David Levy will announce his departure as soon as today. Both executives came to AT&T as part of its acquisition of Time Warner last year.

Kraft Heinz (KHC): [NEWS] Kraft Heinz faces a shareholder lawsuit accusing the company of defrauding shareholders about its business prospects.




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