5 things you need to know before the stock market opens Wednesday, February 22

  • Amazon employees are angry about the new return policy.
  • Walmart and Home Depot offered soft prospects.
  • Starbucks wants you to drink olive oil in your coffee.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, February 17, 2023.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

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

The market came back badly from the three-day weekend. The three major indices each fell at least 2% on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq falling the most. The Dow is now in negative territory for the young year, which initially looked so promising. Bond yields rose as investors weighed what the Federal Reserve might do next, while also factoring in the dovish outlook from two top retailers (see below). They should get some clues later Wednesday, when the Fed releases the minutes of its previous policy-making meeting. Follow live market updates.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy speaks at the New York Times DealBook Summit in the Appel Room at the Jazz At Lincoln Center on November 30, 2022 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Anger from Amazon employees over CEO Andy Jassy’s sudden return mandate continues to grow. From May 1, people must be back in the office at least three days a week, Jassy and his leadership team announced a few days ago. Disgruntled workers spammed an internal website with messages criticizing the decision. Some of the company’s tech employees started a Slack group, which numbered about 16,000 members Tuesday night, and drafted an internal petition pushing back the rule. About 5,000 employees had signed the petition.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw spoke to CNBC’s Morgan Brennan to discuss his company’s response to an Ohio train derailment that released toxic chemicals. He said it is safe for families to return to East Palestine, Ohio, where the train derailed on Feb. 3, and pledged Norfolk Southern’s support for the city and its residents. Asked if it’s safe for people to return, he told CNBC, “Yes, yes, I’ve come back several times. I’m drinking the water here. I’ve been in contact with the families here.” Norfolk Southern has been heavily criticized for its response to the disaster, and the federal EPA has ordered it to take on all cleanup and recovery efforts.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walmart and Home Depot kicked off the retail earnings season with a whimper. Walmart, the country’s largest retailer and grocer, issued a lighter-than-expected forecast for the year as it expects inflation-weary customers to continue to avoid discretionary purchases such as electronics and focus more on essentials such as groceries. Home Depot, meanwhile, reported sales that topped estimates for the first time since November 2019. The home improvement giant also said customers are shopping more cautiously. “We’ve seen increasing levels of price sensitivity as the year progressed, which was actually more or less what we predicted in light of ongoing inflation,” Home Depot’s CFO told CNBC.

Howard Schultz may be leaving his third (and final, he says) stint as Starbucks CEO on bad terms with the barista union, but he bets the new style of drink he’s introducing will leave a tastier legacy after he leaves next month. The global coffee chain is introducing Schultz’s latest brainchild, the “Oleato” line of olive oil-infused coffee drinks, in Italy on Wednesday. It will make its US debut in California this spring before spreading to other markets. “This is a transformative moment in our company’s history by creating a new category, a new platform,” Schultz told CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

– CNBC’s Samantha Subin, Annie Palmer, Noah Sheidlower, Melissa Repko, Amelia Lucas and Rebecca Picciotto contributed to this report.

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