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Dow 20K just a whisper away ahead of jobs data flood

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were drifting this morning, after a rally on Wednesday took the Dow within about 60 points of the big 20,000 milestone. The Dow has gained nearly 9 percent since the election. (CNBC)

Oil was getting some support this morning, after industry data last night showing a larger-than-expected drawdown in inventories. The government's weekly crude stockpile report is out this morning. (Reuters)

China's yuan climbed at its fastest pace against the dollar in a year in offshore trading today, offering some relief to a currency bedeviled by capital outflow concerns recently. (CNBC)

The dollar was hitting all-time highs against the Mexican peso, as traders come to grips with potential changes in U.S. trade policy under a Donald Trump administration. (CNBC)

With economic and geopolitical risks on the rise, bitcoin hit an all-time high this week, up nearly 50 percent in 2017 after surging 122 percent last year. The crypto-currency was a bit lower this morning. (CNBC)


Senior U.S. intelligence officials face questions at a Senate hearing today, that's expected to be dominated by the intel community's assessment that Russia meddled in the election to help Donald Trump win. (AP)

Senators also get a closed door briefing today on the Russian hacking intelligence, as does President Barack Obama. Trump is expected to meet tomorrow was intel officials in New York. (ABC News)

Trump, a harsh intelligence critic, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation's top spy agency, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sean Spicer, a Republican strategist tapped to be Trump's press secretary, said the president-elect's Twitter is unscripted and all his own. But Spicer refuted the notion that Trump's tweets are random. (Chicago SunTimes)

Facebook (FB) co-founder Mark Zuckerberg's 2017 personal challenge to meet people in all 50 states is raising questions about whether he's considering a role in government, which SEC documents show he could do while controlling the social network. (TechCrunch)

Apple (AAPL), complying with what the tech group said was a request from Chinese authorities, removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China late last month. (NY Times)

Retail stocks were getting slammed, after Macy's (M) posted disappointing holiday sales and warned on full-year earnings. The retailer also released a list of closures and an estimated 10,000 workers cuts. The stock was more than 9 percent lower in premarket trading. (CNBC)

Sears stock (SHLD) was also taking it on the chin by about 4 percent, after saying it plans to close 108 Kmart and 42 Sears stores over the next few months, as it looks to stem its operating losses. (CNBC)

Hedge-fund manager Edward Lampert has pumped an additional $1 billion into his yearslong effort to revive Sears, but the CEO's latest financing likely is just another short-term fix for the struggling retailer. (WSJ)

Shares of Kohl's (KSS) were falling a steeper 15 percent in the premarket, after the department store chain lowered its 2016 forecast, due to soft holiday sales, despite a strong Black Friday and the week before Christmas. (Reuters)

After getting off to a slow start following the election, retailers overall rang up a record $91.7 billion in online sales over the holidays, an 11 percent increase on-year but barely edging out an industry forecast. (CNBC)

UPS (UPS) expects holiday returns to peak today, on what it calls National Returns Day. Shoppers are projected to send back 1.3 million packages with UPS today along, and more than 5.8 million this week. (Post Gazette)


BY THE NUMBERS

In the lead-up to the government's December jobs report tomorrow, ADP private payrolls data are out at 8:15 a.m. ET and weekly jobless claims numbers come 15 minutes later. Markit services PMI and ISM nonmanufacturing are due at 9:45 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. ET.

San Francisco Fed John Williams is expected to appear on CNBC at 1 p.m. ET for an interview.


STOCKS TO WATCH

The Labor Department has filed a lawsuit against Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit, seeking access to the search giant's compensation data and documents, as part of a routine compliance evaluation.

E-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN) and teen apparel store chain Forever 21 are among the companies considering offers to acquire bankrupt American Apparel, which made its name as "Made in the USA."

Amazon plans to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore inside Manhattan's Time Warner Center at some point this year. Defunct bookstore chain Borders once operated a location in the same mall.

Nvidia (NVDA), which has surged about 215 percent in 12 months, debuted a new product, Spot, taking on Amazon's Alexa. Spot uses Google Assistant to respond to spoken requests, even from far away.

Sony (SNE) sold 6.2 million PlayStation 4 consoles during the holiday season, bringing the total global sales to 53.4 million units in the three years since the launch.


WATERCOOLER

A Japanese sushi chain boss has bid a winning $632,000 for a 466 pound bluefin tuna, in what may be the last auction at the current site of Tokyo's Tsukiji market. (AP)