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Wall Street appears to be taking a breather after Wednesday's massive rally

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were mixed this morning. On Wednesday, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all closed at new highs. The Dow powered 323 points higher to finish above 26,000 for the first time ever, just eight trading sessions after it closed for the first time above 25,000. (CNBC)

Morgan Stanley (MS) shares were higher in the premarket after the company posted better than expected quarterly earnings. Other financial firms, including Bank of New York Mellon (BK), BB&T (BBT), KeyCorp (KEY), and M&T Bank (MTB), also report earnings this morning. Dow stocks American Express (AXP) and IBM (IBM) highlight a short list of after-the-bell reports. (CNBC)

Apple (AAPL), also a Dow component, will give out $2,500 restricted stock bonuses to most employees. That follows an earlier announcement that it will pay $38 billion in repatriation taxes, with CEO Tim Cook saying the company will bring the majority of its overseas cash back to the U.S. (CNBC)

* Cramer calls Apple investment a 'modern-day Marshall Plan' (CNBC)
* Few large US companies to use tax savings to boost wages: CNBC survey

A newly discovered security flaw is affecting Apple's iPhone and Mac computers. The so-called "text bomb" typically causes an iPhone to crash and, in some cases, restart. Separately, Apple plans to release a software update to allow users to automatically control whether or not their older iPhones are automatically slowed down. (CNBC & ABC News)

Major virtual currencies recovered slightly this morning after a dramatic two-day sell-off. At one stage, bitcoin was 50 percent lower than last month's record high above $19,000. Investors had been "spooked" by news of regulatory crackdowns from both South Korea and China. (CNBC)

* Bitcoin tests important price level after dramatic plunge (CNBC)
* Bitcoin draws another Wall Street giant: NYSE owner (WSJ)
* South Korea considers shutting down all virtual currency exchanges(Reuters)

Investors get three economic reports this morning, all out at 8:30 a.m. ET: weekly jobless claims, December housing starts, and the January Philly Fed index. (CNBC)

* China's economy grew 6.9% in 2017, topping official target and 2016 (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Republican lawmakers were scrambling for votes to pass a bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week. The White House threw its support behind the GOP's short-term spending proposal. (Reuters)

* GOP opens door to weekend votes on spending, immigration (Politico)
* Trump officials weigh keeping national parks open (Washington Post)

Following a New York Times report that says otherwise, President Donald Trump tweeted this morning that his proposed wall along the U.S. southern border "has never changed or evolved," and Mexico would pay for the barrier "directly, or indirectly." (Reuters)

* Trump says terminating NAFTA would yield the 'best deal' (Reuters)

Immigration officials are defending the deportation of a Detroit man who lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years. Jorge Garcia was brought to the U.S. by undocumented family members. Garcia was too old to qualify under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (USA Today)

* Trump administration bars Haitians from US visas for low-skilled work (Reuters)

Six American media outlets came under attack by President Trump and the Republican Party in an announcement styled as "Fake News Awards." The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Newsweek, TIME, and ABC News were criticized. (CNBC)

Michael Wolff's behind-the-scenes book of the Trump White House could reportedly be adapted for a TV series. Endeavor Content apparently purchased the film and TV rights of "Fire and Fury," but a network is not yet attached. (Hollywood Reporter)

Facebook (FB) announced it will broaden its probe into whether Russia attempted to meddle in the referendum on Britain's membership in the EU. An earlier investigation found only a minimal amount of activity. (WSJ)

A former assistant has been accused of stealing $1.2 billion worth of wine from his Goldman Sachs boss and selling it to wine dealer. The bank said the theft was discovered in 2016 and reported to law enforcement. (USA Today)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Shari Redstone, a controlling shareholder of CBS (CBS), has discussed adding new directors to the CBS board as she renews her push to merge the company with Viacom (VIA), the Wall Street Journal reported.

La Quinta (LQ) shares were surging in premarket trading after Wyndham Worldwide (WYN) agreed to buy La Quinta's hotel franchise and hotel management businesses for $1.95 billion. As part of the deal, La Quinta will spin off its real estate assets into a publicly traded REIT.

Alcoa (AA) reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.04 per share, missing estimates by 18 cents, while the aluminum producer also saw revenue fall short of forecasts. Alcoa said a drought in Brazil was among the factors negatively impacting its bottom line.

M&T Bank (MTB) announced it would raises wages for employees as a result of tax reform. But the bank also reported a big quarterly earnings miss. Revenue only slightly beat estimates.

Activist investor Starboard Value has begun a proxy fight with Israeli chipmaker Mellanox Technologies (MLNX). Starboard holds a 10.7 percent stake, making it the company's largest shareholder, and said it considers Mellanox deeply undervalued.

Xerox's (XRX) third largest shareholder, Darwin Deason, wants the office equipment and services provider to disclose details of its joint venture agreement with Japan's Fujifilm. Deason said U.S. securities law requires that disclosure, but the company said it is comfortable with the current level of disclosure.

CBOE Global Markets (CBOE) won SEC approval for a plan to allow end-of-day trading without paying fees to the NYSE or Nasdaq. Both had leveled objections to the plan, saying it would prompt market manipulation and undermine the reliability of its end-of-day closing auctions.

WATERCOOLER

Nestle plans to launch a ruby chocolate version of its KitKat brand in Japan and South Korea this month. Kitkat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby will be available Friday in time for Valentine's Day. The product will also be available online, costing $3.60 for one stick. (Reuters)