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5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday

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1. Stock futures dip after Wall Street breaks a 3-day losing streak

Traders on the floor of the NYSE, Feb. 15, 2022.
Source: NYSE

U.S. stock futures dropped modestly Wednesday, one day after Wall Street broke a three-session losing streak. After two hot inflation reports, retail sales data is out before the bell. Signs of tensions easing between Russia and Ukraine ignited a rally Tuesday that propelled the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 up more than 1% each and the Nasdaq to rise over 2%. However, NATO is now accusing Russia of massing troops at the Ukrainian border, a day after Moscow said it was pulling back. The 10-year Treasury yield ticked lower early Wednesday but remained above 2%.

2. Economic calendar: January retail sales, Fed meeting minutes

Shoppers carry bags inside the Westfield San Francisco Centre shopping mall in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The government’s data on January retail sales, scheduled to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show a 2.1% increase compared with December’s 1.9% decline. Traders will look to the sales report to see how surging inflation might be affecting Americans’ spending habits. Last week, worries about high prices sent consumer sentiment to more than 10-year lows in early February.

The investment community hopes to learn more about what the Fed plans to do to fight inflation when minutes from the central bank’s January meeting are released at 2 p.m. ET. The markets expect the central bank to hike interest rates seven times this year, starting next month.

3. Biden says Russian invasion of Ukraine still ‘distinctly possible’

In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, Russian army tanks move back to their permanent base after drills in Russia.
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Despite NATO claiming to see no signs of drawdowns at Ukraine’s border, Russia said Wednesday it’s returning more troops and weapons to their bases. Moscow’s Tuesday announcement of a pullback was met with skepticism around the world. President Joe Biden warned “an invasion remains distinctly possible,” while urging Russia to choose a diplomatic path to resolving the conflict.

Moscow, which has repeatedly insisted it has no plans to invade Ukraine, is demanding, among other things, that the former Soviet republic never be permitted to join NATO. The U.S. and NATO have said that such a request from Russia cannot be accommodated.

4. Moderna CEO sees 80% chance of Covid evolving as less virulent

Moderna’s sign is seen outside of their headquarters in Cambridge, MA on March 11, 2021.
Boston Globe | Getty Images

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC on Wednesday that it’s “reasonable” to assume that the final stages of the Covid pandemic may be approaching. Bancel said there’s an 80% chance that as the omicron variant evolves it would become “less and less virulent.” But he also sees a “20% scenario where we see a next mutation, which is more virulent than omicron.”

New daily U.S. Covid cases continued to plummet, with the latest seven-day average dropping 44% to 136,190, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. While new daily U.S. deaths from Covid dropped 8% from a week ago, fatalities remained elevated, averaging 2,264 over the past seven days.

5. ViacomCBS changes its corporate name to Paramount Global

In this photo illustration, Paramount+ (Paramount Plus) logo is seen on a smartphone against its website in the background.
Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

On the same day it reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings and better-than-expected revenue and streaming video subscriber additions, ViacomCBS announced after the bell Tuesday a corporate name change to Paramount Global. The move, effective Wednesday, ties the company closer to its Paramount+ streaming service and takes advantage of Paramount’s brand recognition. The new Paramount Global moniker also comes with fresh tickers, starting Thursday, including a change to PARAA for Class A shares from VIACA.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Sign up now for the CNBC Investing Club to follow Jim Cramer’s every stock move. Follow the broader market action like a pro on CNBC Pro.

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