Futures higher ahead of possible 'Santa Claus' rally

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were modestly rising this morning after the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq on Thursday closed higher for the first time in three days. So far this year, ahead of Friday's session, the Dow was up about 25 percent, the S&P was up nearly 20 percent, and the Nasdaq was up 29 percent. (CNBC)

Today marks the beginning of the so-called Santa Claus rally period, which runs until the Jan. 3 close. Some strategists point to the already-outsized gains for 2017 as a reason why the Santa Claus rally may not take place. But optimism over the tax bill might still bring holiday cheer. The markets are closed on Monday for Christmas. (CNBC)

Bitcoin was losing about 11 percent to under $14,000 this morning on the Coinbase platform. It's been a wild two days, which saw the digital currency plunge more than 20 percent on Thursday at one stage, triggering temporary, built-in trading halts in the bitcoin futures traded on the CME and Cboe. (CNBC)

* Bitcoin, Ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies slip while Ripple briefly surges to third place (CNBC)

The week ends with a flurry of economic numbers, beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET with November durable goods orders, consumer spending, and personal income. The final December University of Michigan consumer sentiment index and November new home sales are out at 10 a.m. ET. (CNBC)

There are no earnings reports on today's calendar, but after the bell Thursday Dow component Nike (NKE) reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue. However, investors were focusing on a drop in gross margins, sending the stock about 2 percent lower in the premarket. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Avoiding a government shutdown, the Senate passed an emergency funding bill to keep the federal agencies open through Jan. 19. The temporary spending bill also allows President Donald Trump to sign the GOP tax bill as soon as Friday, instead of waiting until the New Year. (CNBC)

Final open enrollment numbers for the Obamacare federal marketplace were surprisingly strong, with 8.8 million customers selecting a plan by the sign-up deadline, despite the Trump administration's cutting of advertising and outreach for the program. (CNBC)

Larry Lindsey, a former top economic advisor to President George W. Bush and a one-time central bank governor, is being considered for the Fed vice chairman job, according to sources. (CNBC)

A United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the U.S. to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital passed overwhelmingly despite threats from the Trump administration to cut funding to U.S. aid recipients who voted in favor. (CNBC)

* U.N. Security Council to vote on new sanctions against North Korea (USA Today)

Apple (AAPL) is being sued after admitting to slowing down older iPhone models to keep them running longer. The class-action lawsuit claims Apple never got permission from its users to modify the performance of the iPhone. (CNBC)

Qualcomm (QCOM) has obtained a permit to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California, the latest step in the chipmaker's effort to gain a foothold in the self-driving car market. (CNBC)

Alphabet's (GOOGL) Eric Schmidt is stepping down as executive chairman of the Google parent. Schmidt assumes the role of technical advisor as of the next board meeting in January. He will remain a board member. (CNBC)

Papa John's (PZZA) founder John Schnatter is stepping down as CEO, to be succeeded by COO Steve Ritchie. Schnatter and the company saw a backlash after he criticized NFL leadership over the national anthem protests. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Ignyta (RXDX) agreed to be bought by Swiss drug maker Roche for $1.7 billion or $27 per share, a 74 percent premium to its Thursday close, which was being reflected in premarket trading this morning. U.S.-based Ignyta specializes in cancer-related treatments.

Celgene (CELG) said a combination of two of its cancer drugs did not achieve the desired results in a study. The drug maker had hoped the treatment would be more effective in treating a certain type of lymphoma than current standard treatments.

Liberty Global (LBTYA) agreed to sell its Austria unit to Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile Austria for $2.25 billion. The cable operator will provide transitional services for up to four years after the deal closes.

MBIA (MBI) is an increasing target of short sellers, according to a Wall Street Journal article, due to the municipal bond insurer's exposure to Puerto Rico's financial problems. However, some value investors have taken the long side, betting on MBIA surviving a difficult period.

A senior member of the House Financial Services Committee is calling for a congressional hearing, following a CNBC investigation that found UBS (UBS) was not forthcoming about the risks associated with its proprietary bond funds sold to residents on the island.

WATERCOOLER

Legendary sports broadcaster Dick Enberg, whose career spanned parts of seven decades, has died. He was 82. After high-profile roles with NBC and CBS, Enberg called San Diego Padres games for seven years before he retired last year. (USA Today)

— With Christmas Day on Monday, the "Morning Squawk" newsletter will return on Tuesday.