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Dow set to climb closer to 20K as Fed begins rate meeting

MARKETS & ECONOMY

U.S. stock futures were stronger this morning, pointing to the Dow closer to the 20,000 level after another record high on Monday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, however, posted their first drops in seven sessions. (CNBC)

The Fed begins its two-day December meeting today, with policymakers expected to raise interest rates tomorrow afternoon for the second time in about a decade. The last hike was in December 2015. (CNBC)

Oil prices were modestly higher this morning, after surging more than 2.5 percent on Monday to July 2015 highs as signs of a production cut organized by OPEC and other exporters materialized. (Reuters)

After hitting lows earlier this year, gasoline prices are on the march upward again, poised to approach $3 per gallon in parts of the country in early next year, following multiple deals to cut oil production, analysts said. (USA Today)


TRUMP TRANSITION

President-elect Donald Trump announced this morning Exxon Mobil chief Rex Tillerson as his pick for secretary of State. Tillerson has a close business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (CNBC)

Trump is expected to select former rival and ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be Energy secretary. In a 2012 debate on CNBC, Perry forgot Energy was a department he wanted to cut. (NBC News)

Trump has pushed back until January an announcement on how he would address his business conflicts of interest while in office. He had planned to talk about it on Thursday. (NBC News)

David Solomon is expected to be one of the two executives to fill the role of president and COO at Goldman Sachs (GS), replacing Gary Cohn who'll be leaving to head Trump's National Economic Council. (CNBC)


CORPORATE NEWS

Boeing (BA) is cutting 777 production to five from seven per month, beginning next August. Separately, Boeing is hiking its quarterly dividend by 30 percent, and unveiling a $14 billion stock buyback plan. (Reuters)

Quest Diagnostics (DGX) is investigating an unauthorized intrusion into its network that exposed data from about 34,000 individuals. The hack took place on Nov. 26 through the MyQuest by Care internet application. (CNBC)

As Apple (AAPL) rolled out its iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 updates on Monday, users received the new TV app that combines different streaming services, but Netflix (NFLX) was not included. (CNBC)

Twitter (TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey interviews NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden via video conference on this morning, broadcasting live on the company's livestreaming service, Periscope. (Recode)

Alphabet (GOOGL) has backed off plans to develop a car without a steering wheel or pedals, at least for now — instead, partnering with automakers for a self-driving vehicle with traditional features. (The Information)

In the wake of its September rocket explosion, SpaceX has officially delayed the first crewed flight of its Crew Dragon vehicle, the capsule being built to take NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. (Recode)

U.S. insurer Prudential Financial (PRU) has suspended the distribution of a low-cost life insurance policy through Wells Fargo (WFC), pending a review of how the product was sold by the embattled bank. (Reuters)

Media titan Sumner Redstone gave out many millions of dollars to multiple women — mistresses, a flight attendant and that attendant's sister — according to legal documents filed by his ex-girlfriend. (CNBC)

The proposed merger between CBS and Viacom has been withdrawn by Shari Redstone, vice chair of the board for both companies. Separately, the company appointed Bob Bakish as CEO. (CNBC)

Wal-Mart (WMT) is offering free in-store pickup of online orders placed by 6 p.m. local time on Dec. 23, and has launched a dedicated website to view last-minute gift inventory available at their local store. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

A $1.8 billion futures trade that fueled buying in the U.S. stock market last Wednesday was the biggest transaction of its kind all year, according to new analysis, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Ahead of tomorrow's Fed decision and a jam-packed economic slate on Wednesday and Thursday, the government report releases import and export prices for November at 8:30 a.m. ET this morning.

The earnings calendar is also extremely quiet, with no major companies scheduled to release quarterly numbers either this morning or after this afternoon's closing bell on Wall Street.

VeriFone (PAY) late Monday reported adjusted quarterly profit of 30 cents per share, a penny above estimates, with revenue also above forecasts. However, the maker of payment terminals warned on 2017 guidance.


STOCKS TO WATCH

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) is selling five Eastern European beer brands to Japan's Asahi Group for $7.8 billion. AB InBev had put those brands up for sale as part of winning regulatory approval for its merger with SABMiller.

Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN) is buying smaller drilling rival Seventy Seven Energy (SVNT) in an all-stock deal worth about $1.42 billion, excluding assumed debt.

Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) struck a partnership deal with startup online lender ApplePie Capital, taking an equity stake and looking into potentially purchasing loans from the San Francisco-based company.