What's moving markets today

7:21 a.m. ET, February 20, 2019

Government shutdown cost Southwest $60 million

Southwest (LUV) shares are sliding nearly 4% after a one-two punch of bad news.

The airline just said in a regulatory filing that last month's partial government shutdown would cost it roughly $60 million for the first quarter. That's well above the company's previous estimates of between $10 million to $15 million.

The Dallas-based airline also recently declared an "operational emergency." It was forced to cancel hundreds of flights since late last week because of mechanical problems with its fleet.

The carrier cancelled roughly 4% of its flights yesterday and 10% of its flights are cancelled today, according to FlightAware.

The stock is still up more than 20% year-to-date.

7:04 a.m. ET, February 20, 2019

Amazon's ad business will take a bite out of Facebook and Google's dominance this year

Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) have a tight grip on the online advertising market, but Amazon threatens to chip away at their rivals' control.

Amazon's (AMZN) fledgling advertising business will grow more than 50% this year, according to a new report from eMarketer. The firm projects Google's share will decline by a percentage point, while Facebook's will stay about the same.

[Amazon's] platform is rich with shoppers’ behavioral data for targeting and provides access to purchase data in real-time," said eMarketer forecasting director Monica Peart.

Here are two other things the report said:

  • Google and Facebook's share of online ad spending will decline for the first time this year.
  • Digital ad spending in the US will surpass traditional ad spending for the first time, too. "Directories, such as the Yellow Pages, will take the biggest hit–down 19% this year," it said.  
6:19 a.m. ET, February 20, 2019

Setback for Walmart

Shares in UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's (JSNSF) have tanked 15% after British regulators voiced skepticism over its merger with Asda, which is owned by Walmart (WMT).

The Competition and Markets Authority said the deal could lead to higher prices and less choice for shoppers.

The watchdog also said it was worried about potential price hikes at gas stations owned by the two chains.

The findings are provisional, and the two companies will now have a chance to respond.

Sainsbury's said it was "surprised" by the findings, and vowed to continue to fight for the merger, which would result in the country's largest supermarket chain.

6:19 a.m. ET, February 20, 2019

Markets check before the bell

US stock futures are little changed as investors prepare for the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting today at 2 p.m. ET.

The central bank slammed brakes on its plan to raise interest rates twice in 2019 in January, suggesting it could be done with hikes for the time being.

The rapid turn in its strategy led to immediate speculation that the central bank is surrendering to pressure from Wall Street, after fears of an overly aggressive Fed helped send markets plummeting in November and December.

The minutes could give investors a bit more insight into the central bank's thinking.

Other news we're watching:

  • Shares in Lloyds Bank (LLDTF) are up 2.9% after the British bank announced better than expected results.
  • Swiss bank UBS (UBS) could be hit with a major fine in Paris today, after a court case over its allegations that it helped French clients avoid paying tax.