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Wall Street closes in on record territory

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were higher this morning, as the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq near their record high closes of earlier this year. Investors get a series of economic data and Fed speeches today. (CNBC)

Fed policy is very dependent on incoming data but there has already been some tightening of conditions due to the stronger dollar, Fed Gov. Lael Brainard told a conference in Frankfurt today. (Reuters)

Among the other central bankers out-and-about today, Fed Chair Janet Yellen testifies before a House panel at 10 a.m. ET, and New York Fed President William Dudley holds a news conference at 2:30 p.m. ET. (CNBC)

The countdown to jobs Friday begins in earnest this morning, with the ADP private sector employment report at 8:15 a.m. ET. Economists are looking for 180,000 new jobs at U.S. companies last month. (CNBC)

Volkswagen shares were slammed today, after the embattled German automaker said it understated the fuel consumption of 800,000 cars sold in Europe and it could cost another $2.2 billion. (AP)

Japan's Takata faces a Transportation Department fine of $200 million for lapses in its recall of faulty airbag inflators. Separately, Honda and Acura won't use Takata inflators in new vehicles. (CNBC & WSJ)

Tesla issued strong guidance for future deliveries, despite missing expectations on quarterly results. Tesla hired former Google executive Jason Wheeler as its next CFO. (CNBC)

Groupon (GRPN) shares were about 25 percent lower in premarket trading, after missing on revenue and warning on outlook. Co-founder Eric Lefkofsky is leaving as CEO and returning to the role of chairman.

Struggling hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators (LL) appointed board member John Presley as chief executive, replacing founder and acting CEO Thomas Sullivan. (Reuters)

San Francisco voters on Tuesday defeated a controversial ballot measure to curb short-term home and apartment rentals, handing a victory to companies such as Airbnb. (Reuters)

In a major setback to marijuana legalization nationwide, Ohio voters have rejected a sweeping ballot initiative that would have ended pot prohibition in the Buckeye State.

Hillary Clinton and Ben Carson are tied in a hypothetical presidential matchup, but Democrat Clinton leads three other major Republican candidates, including Donald Trump. (NBC News)


BY THE NUMBERS

Hedge fund manager and frequent Fed critic Stanley Druckenmiller believes the central bank has created a bubble of short-term investing through its near zero interest rates and quantitative easing.

Activist investor Carl Icahn continues to think that Fed policies are going to cause woes for the stock market, even though his last prediction of doom has so far failed to materialize.

Bitcoin, the world's most popular digital currency, has been on a roll, but no one is really sure why. After dipping well below $200 in January, bitcoin has recently traded at double those levels.

Asian stocks rose sharply today, on a stellar IPO in Tokyo and positive economic data in China. Japan's Nikkei rose 1.3 percent. The Shanghai composite increased nearly 4.3 percent.

U.S. oil prices were steady this morning, after surging nearly 4 percent to a three-week high Tuesday. The Energy Department releases its weekly look at oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

In addition to the ADP jobs report, the September trade deficit is expected to come in at $41 billion. At 10 a.m. ET, the ISM's non-manufacturing index is seen coming in at 56.5 for October.

Mortgage rates rose to the highest level in a month, pouring cold water on applications. Total volume fell 0.8 percent last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

In another busy day for corporate earnings, Facebook (FB) leads the after-the-bell schedule of quarterly reports.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Time Warner reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.25, above estimates of $1.09, with revenue also beating forecasts. The company's results were helped by strong numbers at its Warner Brothers and HBO units.

21st Century Fox (FOXA) reported adjusted earnings of 34 cents, below expectations of 37 cents. Revenue also came in light.

CBS (CBS) reported earnings above expectations and revenue below estimates. Lower ad sales and licensing fees pressured the media giant's top line results.

Etsy (ETSY) reported a loss and revenue that matched estimates. The online crafts seller spent more money on marketing, but did add 900,000 active buyers during the third quarter.

Zynga (ZNGA) reported quarterly results and revenue that were better than expected, but warned on outlook. Separately, the CFO resigned and the online game maker plans to delay Dawn of Titans and CSR2.

Zillow (Z) reported quarterly results that were better than expectations. But the real estate website operator also adjusted its revenue outlook due to the completed sale of its Market Leader division.

Herbalife (HLF) issued earnings well-above estimates, but revenue fell short. The nutritional products maker rose its full year guidance, which now falls largely above analyst forecasts.

WATERCOOLER

A Taco Bell executive who lost his job after being seen on video allegedly beating an Uber driver faces further criminal charges that could carry penalties of up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. (CNBC)

Bill Simon, the former head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, crash-landed a single-engine plane in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Tuesday. Simon and his two passengers survived a parachute landing. (CNBC)