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Dow 20K remains elusive, as investors yank billions from US stock funds

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were searching for direction this morning, after the Dow retreated even further from the 20,000 level, logging back-to-back declines for the first time since the Friday before Election Day. (CNBC)

Even as the market soared, investors pulled $21.6 billion from U.S. based stock funds in the past week, according to the latest Lipper data. But year-end payouts by funds may be reinvested quickly, said analysts. (Reuters)

Deutsche Bank (DB) has agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over its financial crisis-era sale of mortgage-backed securities. That's about half of the DOJ's originally request. (CNBC)

Credit Suisse (CS) has agreed in principle to a $5.3 billion settlement with the DOJ, over charges related to mortgage-backed securities. That's about in-line with what U.S. regulators had sought. (CNBC)

The U.S. Justice Department is accusing Barclays (BCS) and two former executives of fraudulently misleading the public in the sale of tens of billions of dollars in securities backed by home mortgages. (NY Times)

Italy's government approved today a state bailout for Monte dei Paschi di Siena, after the world's oldest bank failed to secure backing from private investors. (CNBC)

The terror suspect in the Berlin Christmas market truck attack was killed in a shootout in Milan, Italy. Meanwhile, German authorities detained two Kosovo-born brothers on suspicion of planning an attack on a shopping mall. (Reuters & AP)

Lockheed Martin (LMT) shares were under pressure, after President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that he has asked Boeing (BA) to price out a comparable jet to Lockheed's F-35, because of the "tremendous cost and cost overruns." (CNBC)

Trump also tweeted about "greatly" strengthening and expanding America's nuclear capabilities. Separately, Russia's Vladimir Putin in a speech called for a modernization of Moscow's nuclear program. On MSNBC this morning, Trump said in regards to Russian nukes: "Let it be an arms race because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

Trump has tapped former Republican National Committee spokesperson Sean Spicer as press secretary. Close advisor Kellyanne Conway was named as Trump's White House counselor. (AP)

Trump's pick to run the HHS, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, traded more than $300,000 in shares of health-related companies over the past four years, while sponsoring and advocating legislation that potentially could affect those companies. (WSJ)

Health insurers may finally be seeing improved results on their Obamacare plans, just as Trump and the Republicans on Capitol Hill are poised to follow through on promises to end the coverage program. (CNBC)

Apple's (AAPL) latest MacBook Pro has failed to achieve recommended ratings from Consumer Reports for the first time in the laptop line's history. The reason was substandard battery life performance. (CNBC)

Uber is moving a test of its self-driving cars to the friendlier environs of Arizona after suffering a regulatory defeat in California over its use of the vehicles in San Francisco. (WSJ)

Amazon (AMZN) is looking to change the game for last minute shopping, pushing its Prime Now, which guarantees rush delivery within two hours. In select cities, orders could be placed as late as Saturday night. (USA Today)

BY THE NUMBERS

Wall Street trades for a normal, full-day today, since Christmas Eve falls on Saturday. The markets are closed Monday, in observance of Christmas, which falls a Sunday.

The last two economic reports of the week are out at 10 a.m. ET. November new home sales are seen increasing 3 percent, while December consumer sentiment is expected to rise to a 98.7 reading.

With U.S. crude prices around $52 per barrel, the weekly Baker Hughes North American rig count is out at 1 p.m. ET, gauging domestic oil production.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Fred's (FRED) were soaring in premarket trading, after Alden Global Capital reported a nearly 25 percent stake, with the hedge fund calling shares undervalued. Earlier this week, Fred's shot up 81 percent, after announcing a deal to buy 865 stores from Rite Aid (RAD).

Synergy Pharmaceuticals (SGYP) reported positive results in a clinical trial for an irritable bowel syndrome treatment. Shares were up more than 10 percent on the news in the premarket.

Horizon Pharma (HZNP) was granted a patent for its oral liquid used to treat urea cycle disorders.

Facebook (FB) chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sold just over 798,000 shares in the social media company as part of a pre-planned sale.

Cintas (CTAS) reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.13 per share, 2 cents below estimates, while revenue was slightly above forecasts. The uniform and workplace supplies company also issued a full-year forecast slightly higher than a prior estimate, as its profit margins improve.

Cal-Maine Foods (CALM) reported quarterly loss of 48 cents per share, matching estimates, but the egg producer's sales came in below forecasts. Cal-Maine has been hit by weak export demand and a resulting oversupply of eggs.

WATERCOOLER

Starting today, select Starbucks (SBUX) stores are offering free espresso drinks, as part of its 10 Days of Cheer promotion, at a revolving 100 locations per day between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. local time. (AP)