5 things to know before the stock market opens March 16, 2021

by Buzz Street Times

Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Stock futures mixed after Dow, S&P 500 closed at record highs again

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.


2. Fed to digest weak February retail sales at this week’s meeting

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington, December 1, 2020.

Al Drago | Pool | Reuters

The Federal Reserve, which begins its two-day March meeting Tuesday, will be watching bond yields and the latest reading on retail sales. The Commerce Department said before-the-bell that February retail sales fell 3%, a surprisingly weak number. Estimates had called for a 0.4% increase. However, January’s reading was revised higher to a strong 7.6%, getting a bump from the December Covid package. With the Fed’s extraordinarily easy monetary measures during Covid under scrutiny, the nation’s central bank is set to release Wednesday afternoon new economic and interest rate forecasts along with its policy statement.

3. Moderna studies Covid vaccine in kids; more countries halt AstraZeneca

Moderna has started testing its Covid vaccine in children ranging in age from 6 months to less than 12 years old. The mid-to-late stage study intends to enroll about 6,750 kids in the U.S. and Canada. In a separate study, which began in December, Moderna is also testing its vaccine in adolescents between 12 and 18 years old. The two-shot vaccine has already been authorized for emergency use in Americans 18 and older.

Sweden and Latvia on Tuesday joined a fast-growing list of European nations suspending use of AstraZeneca‘s Covid vaccine as health regulators proceed with a new review into its side effects after reports of blood clots. Germany, France, Italy and Spain on Monday said they would all stop administering it. However, the World Health Organization and Europe’s drug regulator have recommended that countries continue to use AstraZeneca’s two-shot regimen.

4. Regulators investigating ‘violent’ Tesla crash; Autopilot not ruled out yet

A driver rides hands-free in a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S vehicle equipped with Autopilot hardware and software in New York.

Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating what it calls a “violent” crash involving a Tesla sedan and a tractor trailer last week in Detroit. Authorities have not yet said whether the electric car maker’s Autopilot, Full Self-Driving or FSD beta may have contributed to the accident. The NHTSA has previously embarked on probes into more than a dozen crashes that were thought to involve Tesla’s advanced driver assist systems.

5. OxyContin maker Purdue proposes $10 billion plan to exit bankruptcy

OxyContin 80 mg pills.

Liz O. Baylen | Getty Images

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is proposing a $10 billion plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection. Those efforts would include a significant boost, more than $4 billion, from members of the Sackler family who own the Connecticut-based company. Court documents show Purdue officials continued to push to maintain sales of OxyContin even as it became clear the drug was being abused. Complicated litigation is playing out in courts across the country in efforts to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for the nation’s opioid crisis.

— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC’s coronavirus blog.

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