5 Things to Know Before the Stock Market Opens Thursday

Adam Galica | CNBC
  • Salesforce scores with its earnings report.
  • Tesla's latest "master plan" flops.
  • President Biden prepares to veto an anti-ESG measure.

Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Off to a weak start

February's gloominess carried over to March. The three indicies either fell or landed in flat territory Wednesday (the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 slid while the Dow squeaked out the barest gain), and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note hit 4% for the first time since November. That action indicates the pain is going to stick around a little longer. On Thursday, investors will chew over the latest weekly jobless claims data as they anticipate the Federal Reserve's next moves in its rate-hiking battle against inflation. Fed Gov. Christopher Waller is slated to speak Thursday afternoon. Follow live markets updates.

2. CRM of the crop

Salesforce surprised everyone – in a good way – with its earnings report Wednesday. Shares of the enterprise software giant and Slack parent surged around 15% in off-hours trading after the company easily topped Wall Street's expectations for revenue and profit. Activist investors have been putting the squeeze on Salesforce and its CEO, Marc Benioff, looking for fatter profits. The company recently cut 10% of its workforce, resulting in more than $800 million in restructuring costs, as part of a longer-term attempt to control spending. Benioff also said the company disbanded its board committee on mergers and acquisitions, while it works with consultancy Bain on reviewing Salesforce's business.

3. Tesla's new 'master plan' underwhelms

Elon Musk speaking at Tesla Investor Day. 
Courtesy: Tesla
Elon Musk speaking at Tesla Investor Day. 

Shares of Tesla fell more than 5% in off-hours trading after the electric vehicle company unveiled its latest "master plan," which, according to CNBC's Lora Kolodny, was light on details and specifics. CEO Elon Musk spoke in utopian terms as he kicked off the presentation. "There is a clear path to a sustainable-energy Earth. It doesn't require destroying natural habitats," he said. "It doesn't require us to be austere and stop using electricity and be in the cold or anything." In terms of nitty-gritty business, Tesla is sticking with its goal of producing 20 million EVs a year by 2030. It's got a long way to go, though. Last year, the company said it delivered a little more than 1.3 million autos.

4. Biden prepares his veto pen

U.S. President Joe Biden discusses health care costs and access to affordable health care during an event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, February 28, 2023.
Leah Millis | Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden discusses health care costs and access to affordable health care during an event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, February 28, 2023.

In the biggest sign yet that political winds are blowing against environmental, social, and corporate governance, or ESG, guidelines, the Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday voted to overturn a rule that allows retirement funds to consider such progressive standards when making investment decisions. Sen. Jon Tester, a moderate Democrat from Montana, and conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia – who are up for reelection next year in their deeply Republican states – voted with Republicans to make it a 50-46 tally. However, President Joe Biden has said he would veto the measure in order to keep the rule in place. It would be the first veto of his presidency.

5. Sanders turns up the heat on Schultz

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L), Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Reuters (L) | Getty Images (R)
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L), Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist from Vermont, is serious about hauling Howard Schultz in for questioning after the outgoing Starbucks interim CEO declined an invitation to testify before lawmakers. The progressive, pro-union senator set a vote for next Wednesday that will decide whether to subpoena Schultz to give testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, or HELP, Committee, which Sanders chairs. Baristas at nearly 300 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, a movement Schultz has opposed. Sanders, in turn, has accused Schultz of union busting.

– CNBC's Samantha Subin, Jordan Novet, Lora Kolodny, Christina Wilkie and Amelia Lucas contributed to this report.

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