Morning Brief

Bulls are 2 for 2 in 2017, with the Dow on 20K march again

Key Points


U.S. stock futures were higher again this morning, on the second trading day of the new year. A powerful advance on Tuesday put the Dow back on the march to 20,000. (CNBC)

The stock market has certainly rallied since Donald Trump won the presidency, but it's time to start thinking about getting out, possibly timed for Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, according to Morgan Stanley. (CNBC)

Investors hope for clues to what the Fed thinks about Trump's tax cuts, when the central bank issues at 2 p.m. ET today the minutes from its December meeting, which saw the second rate hike in a decade. (CNBC)

China stepped into its onshore and offshore yuan markets to shore up its faltering currency for a second session today, sparking speculation of positioning ahead of Trump's inauguration. (Reuters)

A tilt toward isolationism in American and European politics has swept bitcoin up in yet another speculative frenzy, pushing the virtual currency's price toward a peak last reached in late 2013. (NY Times)

The new year is expected to bring the highest gasoline prices since 2012, with the possibility drivers could be collectively shelling out $52 billion more at the pump than they did in 2016. (USA Today)

Dueling Obamacare meetings take place on Capitol Hill today, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence huddling with Republicans to map out a repeal, and President Barack Obama sitting down with Democrats to talk about strategies to combat the effort. (AP)

Trump plans to hold his first formal news conference since the election in New York a week from today. Meanwhile, Trump continued to take jabs at the intelligence community over allegations of Russian hacking. (Reuters & NBC News)

Trump tweeted this morning: "Julian Assange said '14 year old could have hacked Podesta' - why was DNC so careless? Also said 'Russians did not give him the info!'"

Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton, who has worked on high-profile initial public offerings such as Alibaba, is reportedly a leading candidate to head the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Trump administration. (Reuters)

Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Rex Tillerson agreed to sever all ties to comply with conflict-of-interest requirements as the oil giant's ex-chairman and CEO awaits confirmation as Trump's secretary of State. (Reuters)

A federal judge cut almost in half a $1 billion December jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and its DePuy orthopedics unit over lawsuits related to Pinnacle hip implants. (Reuters)

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) were under pressure in premarket trading, after deliveries for 2016 fell slightly below the electric auto maker's target. Tesla said the numbers "should be viewed as conservative" due to the way it counts a delivery. (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) is making a big TV play, integrating its Fire TV stick software directly into television sets made by Chinese electronics giant Tongfang. The TVs come with a voice-control remote featuring Amazon's Alexa AI. (CNBC)


Investors pulled a record $19.3 billion from BlackRock's (BLK) U.S.-based actively managed mutual funds in 2016, according to Morningstar, as the industry struggles to restrain an exodus to lower-cost investments.

Wall Street's debt engine started in record form at the start of 2017, according to the FT, as companies sought to lock in lower borrowing costs shortly before the Trump era, which is expected to bring higher rates.

Besides the Fed minutes, automakers release December sales throughout the morning. The annualized selling rate is expected to be around a strong 17.7 million, down slightly from November.

Mortgage rates fell slightly at the end of 2016, but not enough to end the bleeding in the home-loan market. Total mortgage application volume plunged 12 percent last week.

Manhattan real estate sputtered in the fourth quarter, as inflated prices and rising inventories continued to weigh on the high end. City apartments sat on the market for 94 days compared with 82 last year.


China's Alibaba (BABA) has sued two vendors, accusing them of selling fake Swarovski watches on its Taobao e-commerce platform, its first legal action against counterfeiters.

A federal judge refused to throw out a court verdict upholding two Amgen (AMGN) cholesterol drug patents, a defeat for Sanofi (SNY) and Regeneron (REGN), which make a rival drug.

Gilead (GILD) names as a senior executive the ex-Novartis Oncology chief. Dr. Alessandro Riva was responsible for the development of more than 20 cancer compounds at his former employer.

Toshiba shares fell 2 percent in Asian trading today on reports the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the electronics giant for allegedly inflating profits between 2012 and 2014.

Shares of Takata surged 17.5 percent in Asian trade, gaining more than 60 percent in the past week, on the possibility of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over the company's faulty air bags.

Blackstone (BX) is reportedly near a deal to buy music-rights company Sesac, which licenses songs from artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and Mariah Carey.


Apple stores in China are celebrating the Chinese New Year on Friday by handing out free Beats wireless headphones with the purchase of a Mac computer or an iPhone. (Cult of Mac)

The new year started off well for Universal Studios Hollywood, owned by NBC and CNBC parent Comcast, breaking attendance records on Monday. The theme park was forced to close its gates for the first time ever. (LA Times)