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UiPath upgraded by Canaccord Genuity

Canaccord Genuity upgraded UiPath to buy from hold on Thursday, a day after the automation software company’s earnings topped Wall Street’s expectations.

UiPath has made significant strides in recent months realigning its sales force to more effectively target accounts with high propensities to increase spending, analyst Kingsley Crane wrote in a note to clients. Its new tech, like Clipboard AI, is differentiated and its platform can leverage generative artificial intelligence to drive value, he said.

“When we look at PATH’s revenue scale, product set, and target market, we fundamentally see more opportunity on the horizon than in the rear view,” Kingsley said.

His $19 price target implies nearly 30% upside from Wednesday’s close. Shares of UiPath were up more than 15% in midday trading Thursday.

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Communication services stocks lead S&P 500 higher

Communication services stocks led the S&P 500 higher in Thursday’s session, advancing nearly 2%.

Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet led the sector with gains of nearly 4% each. Media organizations Warner Bros. Discovery and News Corp. were also among the sector’s biggest advancers with additions of 2.2% and 1.4%, respectively.

Thursday’s gain has moved the sector to a 6.6% gain so far this week. The move comes as investors are betting the banking crisis could push the Federal Reserve to avoid a 50 basis point interest rate hike at its next meeting. Technology and other growth stocks typically perform better during periods with lower interest rates.

Information technology and consumer discretionary followed in communication services’ tracks, rising 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively.

Despite the broader index’s mid-session turnover, some sectors were still trading down. Consumer staples performed the worst of the 11 sectors, on track for a 0.6% drop. Real estate and energy also posted losses of around 0.3% each.

— Alex Harring

Foot Locker upgraded to outperform by Telsey Advisory Group

Shares of Foot Locker were up 4% after Telsey Advisory Group upgraded shares to outperform from market perform. The footwear company is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter earnings on March 20.

“We believe Monday’s investor day could serve as a catalyst for the stock, as new CEO Mary Dillon outlines her transformation plan and financial objectives,,” analyst Cristina Fernández wrote in a Thursday note.

“In her six months in the role, she has made changes to the leadership team and simplified the business by exiting international operations, while focusing on the ‘core’ Foot Locker and Champs banners and its ‘growth’ concepts,” the analyst added.

Fernández raised her price target to $50 from $39, implying almost 18% upside from Wednesday’s close price. Shares are up 11.5% in 2023.

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Foot Locker stock

Bank shares rebound off lows

Bank shares rebounded from their lows after The Wall Street Journal reported that some of the biggest U.S. banks were in talks to aid First Republic.

Shares of First Republic were down 23%, well off their lows, before being halted for volatility. The SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) also rebounded from its lows of the day and was last down 0.7%.

Among the banks in talks to support First Republic are JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, the report said, citing sources. The WSJ also said there are discussions of a possible share sale — or even a potential takeover.

— Fred Imbert

Big Tech stocks lift market higher

Big Tech shares climbed higher Thursday, shrugging off fears of the spreading banking crisis. Amazon shares rallied 3.3%, while Google parent Alphabet jumped 3%. Apple, Meta and Netflix also traded higher.

The strength in technology heavyweights pushed the major stock averages in the green in morning trading. Investors could be flocking to Big Tech to embrace their megacap safety, while betting that the current turmoil will keep the Fed from raising rates, benefitting growth names.

— Yun Li

Goldman says trouble in banks is increasing chances of a recession

Banking industry tumult is placing the U.S. economy in greater danger of a recession, according to Goldman Sachs.

The Wall Street firm upped its probability of a contraction in the 12 months ahead to 35%, a 10 percentage point increase, “reflecting increased near-term uncertainty around the economic effects of small bank stress,” Goldman economist Manuel Abecasis said in a client note Wednesday evening.

Regional bank stocks were taking a beating against Thursday. The SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF slumped 3.7% in early trading.

—Jeff Cox

Bill Ackman issues warning of more bank failures

Pershing Square founder and CEO Bill Ackman believes more bank failures could be on the way despite the regulatory intervention following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. He urged the government to explicitly guarantee all depositors’ money for the time being.

“Our gov’t’s failure to provide a temporary guarantee on all deposits is causing an unnecessary banking crisis which could have a profoundly negative effect on the economy,” Ackman said in a Thursday tweet.

“Confidence is destroyed quickly and can take years and sometimes decades to be restored. Three dominoes have fallen and another is on its way. The market will find its next victim(s) if this one is allowed to fall,” he added.

— Yun Li

First Republic sells off in heavy volume

Investors are dumping First Republic at a fast pace, with more than 41 million shares exchanging hands in only the first hour of trading. For comparison, the stock’s 30-day average volume is 15.18 million.

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FRC sells off in heavy volume

Bitcoin inches higher amid growing concern over global banking crisis

The price of bitcoin advanced Thursday after a big rally in cryptocurrencies this week as the broader investment world assessed cracks in the banking system in the U.S. and Europe.

Bitcoin added about 1.5% to $24,763.60, according to Coin Metrics, while Ether added more than 1% to trade at $1,667.56. Earlier Thursday, bitcoin briefly touched $25,000, which has been a key level watched by chart analysts.

Investors have welcomed resilient crypto prices amid the banking crisis this week, which, coupled with bitcoin’s lowest correlation to stocks in months, is driving a narrative shift for bitcoin as a valuable alternative asset. Bitcoin’s price moves, however, are still heavily influenced by inflation and Federal Reserve rate hikes.

— Tanaya Macheel

Stocks open lower

The three major indexes traded down as markets opened for Thursday’s session.

The Dow and S&P 500 were both down around 0.6% in the first minutes after trading began. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.4%.

— Alex Harring

JPMorgan upgrades telecom stock Motorola Solutions

It’s time to build a long-term position in Motorola Solutions, according to JPMorgan.

Analyst Paul Chung upgraded Motorola Solutions to overweight from neutral, saying the telecommunications equipment firm that was spun off from telephone company Motorola Mobility Holdings is looking attractive.

“The stock has retraced back to levels pre-4Q print, and we take advantage of overall market volatility to establish a long-term position in this high-quality stock,” Chung wrote.

CNBC pro subscribers can read the full story here.

— Sarah Min

Western Alliance falls in premarket after Fitch places bank on negative rating watch

Western Alliance Bancorp tumbled more than 8% in extended trading after Fitch placed the bank on rating watch negative.

Fitch said the downgrade came as the fallout around Silicon Valley Bank’s closure and market conditions have created “liquidity stresses outside the baseline assumptions.”

The drop marks a turn from Wednesday’s session, when the stock gained 8.3% and bucked the broader slide in regional banks.

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Western Alliance

Housing numbers surge, jobless claims fall, business surveys negative

Building permits and housing starts soared in February, while the latest data on jobless claims saw a big drop, according to economic reports Thursday.

Permits jumped to 1.524 million, a 13.8% increase from January and well above the Dow Jones estimate for 1.34 million, the Commerce Department reported. At the same time, total starts soared to 1.45 million, a 9.8% monthly increase and easily above the 1.31 million estimate.

Jobless claims showed a notable decline.

First-time filings for unemployment benefits totaled 192,000, a decrease of 20,000 and below the expectation of 205,000, according to the Labor Department. Continuing claims, which run a week behind, fell by 29,000.

In other economic reports, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing survey edged higher but was still at -23.2, representing the percentage difference between companies reporting expansion vs. contraction.

The New York Fed’s Business Leaders Survey nudged higher but also was still negative at -10.1. In that survey, the business climate index fell to -38.8, “suggesting the business climate remains much worse than normal,” the New York Fed said.

Stock market futures lost ground following the data releases.

—Jeff Cox

Stocks making the biggest premarket moves

Here are some of the names making the biggest moves in the premarket:

  • Snap, Meta — Snap gained 6% and Meta rose 1.6% after the Biden administration said competitor TikTok could be banned in the U.S. unless it is sold by its Chinese owner, ByteDance, CNBC confirmed, citing a person familiar with the matter.
  • Dollar General — The discount retailer dropped nearly 2% after its fourth-quarter same-store sales missed Wall Street’s estimates. Same-store sales rose 5.7% in the quarter, versus the 6% expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • UiPath — The automation software company rallied more tan 15% after its fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 15 cents beat the 6 cents expected, per StreetAccount. Revenue came in at $308.5 million, well above the $278.6 million expect.

To see more stocks making moves in the premarket, read the full story here.

— Michelle Fox

Market moves back to quarter-point Fed rate hike next week

The ever-shifting market on what the Federal Reserve will do with interest rates next week now is indicating that a quarter percentage point move higher is likely.

Traders assigned a 74% probability of a 0.25 percentage point, or 25 basis point, increase when the Federal Open Market Committee releases its decision Wednesday, according to CME Group data shortly before 7:30 a.m. ET.

The fed funds futures market has been highly volatile over recent days, with expectations vacillating between the quarter-point hike and no increase.

Though the market is now looking for an increase in March, it doesn’t expect much after that.

Futures contracts implied a peak, or terminal, rate of 4.88% in May, then that number sliding through the year to 3.97% by December, indicating a likelihood of rate cuts ahead.

—Jeff Cox

What analysts are saying about Credit Suisse

Wall Street analysts were split on whether they should buy into Credit Suisse following the bank announcing it would borrow up to nearly $54 billion to shore up liquidity.

JPMorgan’s Roberto Henriques reiterated an overweight rating on the bank, noting he expects that the “central bank bazooka” will assuage investors concerned over liquidity issues and give Credit Suisse enough time to roll out a restructuring plan.

Analysts at Bank of America and RBC Capital Markets, however, were not as optimistic.

Check out our full story on CNBC Pro.

— Sarah Min

Credit Suisse situation not a Lehman-like event, JPMorgan traders say

Traders at JPMorgan broke down why they think Credit Suisse’s situation is not like Lehman Brothers during the financial crisis.

“There are some glaring differences,” they wrote. “(i) US and EU banks are well capitalized, so this is primarily an issue of confidence; (ii) the Fed/Treasury have an existing playbook and can put together a sizable response overnight. It should not surprise to see the $25bn BTFP increased and then levered up. (iii) derivatives exposure is materially lower today than in the lead up to GFC.”

Global markets were rocked Wednesday after Credit Suisse’s largest investor said it would not provide further assistance. Overnight, the bank said it would borrow up to roughly $54 billion from the Swiss National Bank to shore up short-term liquidity.

— Fred Imbert, Michael Bloom

European markets open higher

European markets opened higher Thursday as regional investors breathed a sigh of relief after the Swiss National Bank said it would provide a liquidity backstop to beleaguered bank Credit Suisse.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index opened 1% higher. Most sectors and major bourses opened on a positive note, with gains led by a rally in bank stocks, which were up 2.8%. Oil and gas and retail stocks were up 1.6%.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Saudi National Bank says panic over Credit Suisse is unwarranted

Panic over Credit Suisse is 'unwarranted,' Saudi National Bank chairman says

The chairman of Credit Suisse’s largest shareholder, Saudi National Bank, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble that the recent market turmoil in the banking sector is “isolated” and stems from “a little bit of panic.”

“If you look at how the entire banking sector has dropped, unfortunately, a lot of people were just looking for excuses … it’s panic, a little bit of panic,” Ammar Al Khudairy said on CNBC’s “Capital Connection.”

He added that Credit Suisse has not asked Saudi National Bank for financial assistance.

“There has been no discussions with Credit Suisse about providing assistance,” he said. “I don’t know where the word ‘assistance’ came from, there has been no discussions whatsoever since October,” he said.

His comments come after Credit Suisse announced it will be borrowing up to 50 billion Swiss francs ($53.68 billion) from the Swiss National Bank to shore up liquidity and investor confidence after its stock plunged Wednesday.

– Jihye Lee

Swiss franc strengthens in volatile trade after Credit Suisse’s announcement

The Swiss franc saw continued volatility following developments around Credit Suisse – and last strengthened 0.17% against the U.S. dollar to pare earlier weakening after the lender announced to borrow nearly $54 billion from Swiss National Bank.

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The Japanese yen also saw further strengthening to trade at 132.86 against the greenback. The Korean won strengthened 0.13% to 1,311.24 against the U.S. dollar.

– Jihye Lee

Credit Suisse says it will borrow up to about $54 billion from Swiss central bank

Credit Suisse announced it will be borrowing up to 50 billion Swiss francs ($53.69 billion) from the Swiss National Bank under a covered loan facility and a short-term liquidity facility.

The steps will “support Credit Suisse’s core businesses and clients as Credit Suisse takes the necessary steps to create a simpler and more focused bank built around client needs,” the company said in an announcement.

In addition, the bank is making a cash tender offer in relation to ten U.S. dollar denominated senior debt securities for an aggregate consideration of up to $2.5 billion – as well as a separate offer to four Euro denominated senior debt securities for up to an aggregate 500 million euros, the company said.

Read more here.

– Jihye Lee

First Republic Bank considering options, including sale: Bloomberg

First Republic Bank is considering options to shore up liquidity including a sale of the lender, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The bank is expected to draw interest from its rivals and no decision has been made, the report said.

Shares of the bank rose 3.92% in after hour trading in U.S. Wednesday evening – after seeing a rise of more than 20% earlier in the week alongside regional banks.

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‘Big Short’ investor Steve Eisman says if the Fed is scared to raise rates, investors should also be wary

Steve Eisman of “The Big Short” fame said if the spreading banking crisis stops the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates next week, investors should be fazed by that.

“Fifty basis points is off the table. So either they’re going to do 25 basis points or they’re going to do nothing,” Eisman said on CNBC’s “Fast Money” Wednesday evening.

“If the Fed doesn’t raise rates, … maybe it’ll be positive for a couple hours or a couple of weeks,” he said. “But the Fed won’t be raising rates because it’s scared. Well, if the Fed is scared, you should be scared.”

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more about his analysis here.

— Hakyung Kim

JPMorgan says headwinds to credit could result in GDP downturn

JPMorgan analyst Michael Feroli believes GDP numbers could take a hit in upcoming quarters as investors become anxious about the financial sector, particularly mid-size banks.

“A very rough estimate is that slower loan growth by mid-size banks could subtract a half to a full percentage-point off the level of GDP over the next year or two,” Feroli wrote in a Wednesday note.

“We believe this is broadly consistent with our view that tighter monetary policy will push the US into recession later this year. It’s not unusual when a Fed rate hiking campaign causes stress in the financial system—it’s unusual when it doesn’t,” Feroli added.

The firm anticipates the Federal Reserve will announce a rate hike of 25 basis points, rather than a 50 basis point-increase or pausing rate hikes entirely.

“We look for a quarter-point hike. A pause now would send the wrong signal about the seriousness of the Fed’s inflation resolve,” said Feroli.

“Relatedly, it would also send the wrong signal about ‘financial dominance,’ which is the idea that the central bank is hesitant to tighten, or quick to ease, because of concerns about financial stability.”

— Hakyung Kim

Stocks making the biggest moves after hours

Check out the companies making headlines after the bell.

Credit Suisse — Credit Suisse shares rallied almost 7% after a statement from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority and the Swiss National Bank said that the bank is currently well capitalized. The SNB added that it would provide additional liquidity if necessary. Shares tumbled 13.9% during Wednesday’s trading session after Credit Suisse’s largest investor, Saudi National Bank, said that it could not provide the Swiss bank with any further financial assistance.

Adobe  The software company’s shares were up 4.6% after its fiscal first-quarter results topped Wall Street estimates. The company reported adjusted earnings of $3.80 per share and revenue of $4.66 billion. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected earnings of $3.68 per share and revenue of $4.62 billion.

Five Below — Shares of the value retailer were down more than 3% in extended trading, slipping on the company’s muted outlook for the first quarter. Five Below reported revenue that topped Wall Street’s expectations, according to Refinitiv, and earnings were in-line with estimates.

CNBC Pro subscribers can find the full list here.

— Hakyung Kim

U.S. stock futures mixed on Wednesday night

U.S. stock futures were mixed on Wednesday night after investor fears of a widespread banking crisis led to a volatile trading session. 

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell by 24 points, or 0.07%. S&P 500 futures were updown just 0.03%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.10%.

— Hakyung Kim