- Global Stocks Rally Intact as U.S. Hits New Highs. The bulls are gaining momentum as the global equity rally stretches to Asia. Tokyo shares jumped to the highest level since December 2015 while equities in Australia and New Zealand also climbed after U.S. indexes set new records on signs growth is firming worldwide. The dollar extended gains after Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard supported the case for an interest-rate hike “soon.” Treasuries fell for a fourth straight day and gold retreated. Japan’s Topix jumped 1.2 percent, the most since Dec. 18, 2015, as of 9:28 a.m. in Tokyo. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1 percent and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.7 percent. Hang Seng futures rose 0.6 percent.
- White House Said to Kick Off Infrastructure Planning Thursday. President Donald Trump’s administration will convene a meeting of at least 15 federal agencies Thursday as a first government-wide step toward crafting the president’s $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, a senior White House official said. Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, will lead the meeting, which will focus on identifying new projects that would boost the economy; finding existing projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, that could be expedited; targeting policies, outdated rules and laws that could delay projects; and developing funding and financing options, the official said.
- Fed's Brainard Says Rate Hike Will Likely Be Appropriate Soon. Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard painted a positive picture of economies at home and abroad that supported the case for an interest-rate hike “soon” by the U.S. central bank. “Assuming continued progress, it will likely be appropriate soon to remove additional accommodation, continuing on a gradual path,” Brainard said in the text of a speech Wednesday at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “We are closing in on full employment, inflation is moving gradually toward our target, foreign growth is on more solid footing and risks to the outlook are as close to balanced as they have been in some time.”
- Big Pharma Is Losing a Fortune Trying to Cure Alzheimer's. Alzheimer’s disease is upending the rules of drug discovery, with a handful of companies abandoning caution to keep pursuing an elusive hypothesis because the potential payoff is so great.
Wall Street Journal:
- White House Options on North Korea Include Use of Military Force. The strategy review comes as recent events have strained stability in Asia.
- U.S. to Remove Iraq From Travel-Ban List. Decision comes amid concerns in Washington and Baghdad that restriction would undercut relations with ally in fight against Islamic State.
Earnings of Note
7:30 am EST
- CalPERS Threatens To Slash Pension Benefits By 63% For Some Unfortunate East San Gabriel, California Workers.
- Asian equity indices are +.75% to +1.0% on average.
- Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 94.0 -2.0 basis points.
- Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 26.25 -.25 basis point.
- Bloomberg Emerging Markets Currency Index 71.36 -.03%.
- S&P 500 futures -.07%.
- NASDAQ 100 futures -.04%.
Earnings of Note
7:30 am EST
- Challenger Job Cuts YoY for February.
- Initial Jobless Claims for last week are estimated to rise to 245K versus 244K the prior week.
- Continuing Claims are estimated at 2060K versus 2060K prior.
- None of note
- The Fed's Mester speaking, China Manufacturing PMI, Eurozone PPI report, weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, weekly EIA natural gas inventory report, BofA Merrill Refining conference, (LB) Feb. sales report, (WAT) investor day and the (BCO) investor day could also impact trading today.