IN THE NEWS TODAY
President Donald Trump, in an interview on NBC News, called James Comey a "showboat," saying he was going to fire him as FBI director even before a Justice recommendation. Trump also revealed he asked Comey whether he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia.
Despite what Trump told NBC, Comey did not seek a dinner with the president to retain his job. That's according to one current and one former FBI official close to Comey. Sources said the White House requested the January dinner.
President Trump on NBC defended his decisions to oust Comey quickly and wait to terminate national security advisor Michael Flynn. Trump also reiterated he fired Flynn because he misled the vice president over whether he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
Trump on NBC again firmly denied that he has any financial links to Russia. While saying the investigations into his campaign were "set up by the Democrats," he said he backs a full investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The New Yorker, long known for its comedic covers that flirt with controversy, is taking on the firing Comey and in the process comparing it to the national outrage over the passenger who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. and China have agreed to expand trade in beef and chicken, and increase access for financial firms, as part of a plan to reduce the massive Washington deficit with Beijing. (Reuters)
Mexico sent a stark message to the Trump administration, saying an upcoming visit by Mexican officials to China showed Latin America's second largest economy had other places to export to if he tore up the NAFTA trade deal. (Reuters)
A new directive from Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed Obama-era policies on charging and sentencing nonviolent drug offenders and orders federal prosecutors to seek harsher penalties. (NY Times)
Trump has signed an executive order, targeting the federal government's notorious vulnerability to cyber threats, mandating one set of standards and making the heads of each government agency responsible for security. (NBC News)
Apple (AAPL) announced today Corning (GLW) will receive $200 million from Apple's new Advanced Manufacturing Fund as part of the company's commitment revealed earlier this month on CNBC to foster innovation among U.S. manufacturers. (Press Release)
Japan's SoftBank is pledging to invest $5 billion in China's leading ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing. Last year, Apple invested $1 billion in Didi. Separately, Softbank is putting $500 million into a U.K. virtual reality startup. (WSJ & CNBC)
STOCKS TO WATCH
Trade Desk (TTD) was soaring more than 20 percent in premarket trading after quarterly earnings and revenue beat forecasts. The provider of programmatic advertising technology also issued rosier outlook.
Shares of Hain Celestial (HAIN) rose as much as 8 percent in the premarket following disclosure from the maker of organic and natural products that its internal accounting probe was almost over.
AstraZeneca (AZN) said its immunotherapy drug
Boeing (BA) said the engines for its 737 MAXs need to be reapproved by the FAA before the jetliner maker can begin deliveries. The new plane was grounded due to an engine issue.
Wal-Mart (WMT) CEO Doug McMillon has been ordered by a judge to answer questions in a lawsuit pertaining to suspected bribery in Mexico. McMillon had been president of Wal-Mart International at the time of the alleged incidents.
Bank of America's (BAC) brokerage, Merrill Lynch, is rolling out a commission-paying retirement account compatible with a new Labor Department regulation that raises the standards for client care.
Anthem (ANTM) failed in its bid to get a judge to order Cigna (CI) not to terminate its $54 billion merger deal. Anthem has until Monday to decide whether to appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court.
Microsoft (MSFT) unveiled its latest image-recognition technology, designed to help users make cooler videos. The moment underscored Microsoft's investment in artificial intelligence and its determination to keep up with Alphabet and Apple. (CNBC)