What to Watch in the Markets

By MarketsFOXBusiness

1. Microsoft

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares were up more than 1.5% in the pre-market after Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) upgraded the company from equal weight to overweight. It also upped the price target to $66 a share from $57. Part of the reason for the upgrade was confidence in the tech titans ability to hold onto mid-teens total return profile thanks to strong public cloud positioning , data center share gains, and durable office franchise.

2. General Motors


General Motors (NYSE:GM) boosted its 2016 profit outlook to between an adjusted $5.25 and $5.75 a share, up from its October guidance of $5 to $5.50 a share. The company also said it was increasing its share buyback by $4 billion to $9 billion through 2017, and bumping up its quarterly dividend of 6% to 38 cents a share beginning in the first quarter. The revised outlook was a result of strong product launches, more emphasis on core efficiencies, and expectations for modest growth across the global auto industry.

3. CSX


After the bell Tuesday, CSX said it was hit with a one-two punch as quarterly revenue dropped 13% due to coal volumes that plunged 32% during the fourth quarter, and less money from fuel surcharges thanks to lower prices. The railroad company’s chief executive said in a statement 2016 full-year earnings are expected to be down compared to 2015, but he didn’t elaborate on a more detailed outlook.

4. Yum! Brands


The parent company of fast-food favorites KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell said same-store sales in China jumped 1% year over year, as KFC sales grew 5%, while Pizza Hut slumped 11%. In the fourth quarter, the company’s China division sales rose 2%. Yum! Brands will release fourth-quarter earnings on February 3 after the market close.

5. Oil


Global crude prices jumped on Wednesday after hitting fresh 12-year lows in the prior session, trading below the psychologically significant $30 a barrel level for the first time since 2003. Prices spiked more than 2% for both West Texas Intermediate crude and Brent, the international benchmark. However, traders will closely eye the latest U.S. weekly inventory data at 10:30 a.m.ET.

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