IN THE NEWS TODAY
South Korea predicted today that North Korea would look to open negotiations with the U.S. next year. That came even as Seoul set up a specialized military team to confront nuclear threats from the North. (Reuters)
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, said President Donald Trump is certain to face an independent challenge in the 2020 election, if not a challenge from within the party. And Flake is not ruling out being that challenger. (AP)
A man claiming to be the person who delivered a gift-wrapped package of horse manure at the home of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly says he did it in protest of the GOP and Trump's tax bill. (Reuters)
* The GOP tax overhaul kept this $1,300 break for seniors (CNBC)
Federal prosecutors are reportedly seeking information about Trump senior advisor Jared Kushner's real estate business. There is no indication that the request is related to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. (NY Times)
Trump administration regulators are reportedly proposing to roll back safety measures put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental estimates it could save the industry $900 million. (WSJ)
Drug overdose deaths soared last year, fueled by heroin and synthetic opioids, reducing life expectancy for the second year in a row, according to two new reports. Last year, 63,600 people died from drug overdoses, the CDC says. (CNBC)
Intel (INTC) will fall from the no. 1 slot for semiconductor sales this year after being on top for 25 years, according to Japan's Nikkei newspaper, with Samsung Electronics displacing Intel in the rankings.
STOCKS TO WATCH
GGP (GGP) is in play again, after the Wall Street Journal reported that Brookfield Property Partners (BPY) is seeking to restructure its offer for part of the mall owner that it does not already own. The $14.8 billion offer it made last month was half in cash and half in stock, but GGP is said to be wary of accepting Brookfield stock in its current form.
Volkswagen (VLKAY) Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told German newspaper Welt that the automaker's 2017 results will be "outstanding in operational terms". Volkswagen has been trying to recover from the 2015 emissions scandal which has cost it billions in fines and penalties.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will pay $125 million to resolve claims related to the sales of mortgage backed securities to two large California pension funds. RBS had been accused of misrepresenting those securities and failing to disclose the nature of the mortgages that backed them.
Intel (INTC) will fall from the #1 slot for semiconductor sales this year after being on top for 25 years, according to Japan's Nikkei newspaper, with Samsung Electronics displacing Intel in the rankings.
Walmart (WMT), Amazon.com (AMZN), Target (TGT) and other retailers are on watch today, on reports of improved holiday season sales this year. MasterCard SpendingPulse reported a 4.9 percent gain in sales for the November 1 through December 24 period, compared with last year's 3.7 percent gain. E-commerce sales were up 18.1 percent compared to a year earlier.
Disney's (DIS) "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" led the box office, expected to bring in more than $100 million over the holiday period, according to ComScore. Sony's "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" came in second followed by "Pitch Perfect 3." (LA Times)