5 things to know before the stock market opens Friday, March 18

Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Stock futures drop as S&P 500 still tracks for best week since November 2020

Traders on the floor of the NYSE, March 17, 2022.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

U.S. stock futures dropped Friday as the S&P 500 was tracking to break a two-week losing streak and pacing for its best weekly performance since November 2020. With the Federal Reserve‘s first interest rate hike since 2018 out of the way, the Dow on Thursday logged a four-session winning streak. The 30-stock average was set to break five straight losing weeks, also with its best weekly gains since November 2020. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq on Thursday each climbed for three straight sessions. The Nasdaq was on track to rise for the first week in the past three, with its best weekly performance since February 2021.

2. Fed’s Bullard says the central bank should raise rates above 3% this year

James Bullard

Olivia Michael | CNBC

3. Biden, Xi set to talk for first time since Russia attacked Ukraine

A screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping attending a virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden via video link, at a restaurant in Beijing, China November 16, 2021.

Tingshu Wang | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday are scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. ET, marking first contact between the two leaders since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Much of Chinese state media coverage has focused on negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, without describing the conflict as an invasion or war, while blaming the U.S. for “fueling” the tensions. State media announcements on the Xi-Biden call did not specifically mention Ukraine, while the White House announcement included it as a planned topic of discussion.

4. Ukrainian cities Kyiv and Lviv suffer new missile strikes and shelling

Police and military personnel stand in front of a residential apartment complex that was heavily damaged by a Russian attack on March 18, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Russian forces pressed their assault on Ukrainian cities Friday, with new missile strikes and shelling of Kyiv and the outskirts of the western city of Lviv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy early Friday thanked Biden for additional military aid but declined to specify how the funds would be used. Both Ukraine and Russia this week reported some progress in negotiations. Zelenskyy said he would not reveal Ukraine’s negotiating tactics.

5. GameStop swings to a quarterly loss, shares drop in premarket

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Shares of GameStop fell roughly 9% in premarket trading Friday, the morning after the video game retailer swung to an unexpected loss in the holiday quarter due to supply chain challenges. GameStop declined to offer any forward guidance. On a post-earnings call, CEO Matt Furlong said GameStop is still in the early days of its turnaround. The company said it will launch a marketplace for nonfungible tokens by the end of the second quarter. It’s also launching a redesigned app, striking relationships with PC gaming brands and attracting new members to its rewards program.

— CNBC reporters Yun Li, Jeff Cox, Tanaya Macheel, Jesse Pound, Evelyn Cheng and Melissa Repko as well The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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