IN THE NEWS TODAY
President Donald Trump is leaning toward Fed Governor Jerome Powell as his choice to lead the U.S. central bank, Politico reports, citing three administration officials. Trump, who met with current Chair Janet Yellen, has not made a final decision, the officials cautioned.
*Trump's apparent favorite to run the Fed is a safe bet unlikely to rock markets (CNBC)
President Trump is considering tightening the vetting process for women and children seeking to enter the U.S. as refugees. If adopted, the proposal would bring security checks closer to those for adult men, three sources with knowledge of the plan told Reuters.
Senate Republicans approved a $4 trillion budget measure Thursday, taking a crucial step toward their goal of passing a tax plan this year. Passing a budget unlocks reconciliation, which enables the GOP to pass a tax bill with a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate. (CNBC)
President Trump and Vice President Pence have posted a petition asking for signatures from supporters who believe in standing for the national anthem. The petition came after the NFL said no rule would be mandated on players who kneel during the anthem. (USA Today)
Speaking at the Bush Institute's Spirit of Liberty event, former President George W. Bush took veiled swipes at Trump, warning that "bigotry seems emboldened" in America and "our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication." (CNBC)
*Obama blasts Trump and 'politics of division' on return to campaign trail (Reuters)
The number of adults without health insurance is up nearly 3.5 million this year, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, as rising premiums and political turmoil over "Obamacare" undermine coverage gains that drove the nation's uninsured rate to a historic low. (AP)
*IRS to block, suspend tax returns that lack Obamacare disclosures (CNBC)
Nearly two dozen major companies in technology and other industries are reportedly planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, undocumented immigrants a path to permanent residency. (Reuters)
Lyft is exploring going public in 2018, trying to strengthen its position by raising more capital, including $1 billion in new financing led by an investment arm of Google's parent company which also invests in rival ride-hailing service Uber. (NY Times)
Tesla's (TSLA) Model S sedan earned an "above average" reliability rating for the first time from Consumer Reports. The influential magazine also predicted the upcoming Model 3 will have only an "average" reliability score. (USA Today)
Wal-Mart (WMT) is near a deal to add Lord & Taylor to its website, part of a broader effort to build an online mall to compete with Amazon (AMZN). (WSJ)
Tech firm MongoDB (MDB) was higher in premarket trading after rising nearly 34 percent on its first day of trading Thursday, in a $192 million IPO. (CNBC)
Stitch Fix has filed for an initial public offering. The IPO will be the first test of investor reception to the newest breed of online shopping companies. It is likely to be watched closely by its e-commerce peers such as Warby Parker and Rent the Runway. (CNBC)
STOCKS TO WATCH
PayPal Holdings (PYPL) beat estimates by 3 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of 46 cents per share. Revenue beat estimates as well, with PayPal's results helped by mobile payments that more than doubled compared to a year earlier.
Athenahealth (ATHN) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 56 cents per share, 6 cents above estimates, although the provider of health-care software did see revenue miss Street forecasts. The company also said it would cut about 9 percent of its workforce, a move that would save up to $115 million by the end of next year.
Intuitive Surgical (ISRX) came in 19 cents above estimates with quarterly earnings of $2.18 per share, while the surgical products maker's revenue also comfortably exceeded Street forecasts. The earnings beat came on the strength of an increase in shipments of the company's flagship Da Vinci robotic surgical systems.
NCR (NCR) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 93 cents per share, 3 cents above estimates. However, the payment processing company saw revenue miss forecasts and it gave weaker than expected current quarter guidance. NCR said orders for its automated teller machines have been impacted by delays in spending from large customers, among other factors.
Celgene (CELG) discontinued a trial for an experimental drug to treat Crohn's disease. The company did not identify any safety concerns, and analysts say the decision likely came because of a lack of efficacy.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has largely avoided public criticisms of Trump, but he hit the president with some zingers during a comedic address at a New York charity dinner last night. (USA Today)
Chinese tech giant Tencent rolled out a game that lets users clap for President Xi Jinping by pressing on their phone screen as many times as possible in 19 seconds. In just three days, the game has racked up 1.2 billion plays. (AP)