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US-China trade talks may hold the key to whether stocks finish the week higher

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to modest gains at the open this morning, giving the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq a shot at erasing small weekly declines. The small-cap Russell 2000 again bucked the overall downtrend Thursday and closed at a second straight record high. (CNBC)

China said, contrary to reports, that it has not offered to cut its trade surplus with the U.S. by $200 billion as a second-round of trade talks between the two economic superpowers continue in Washington today. (Reuters & CNBC)

* Trump: I doubt trade negotiations with China will succeed (CNBC)
* Trump meets China's Vice Premier Liu He on trade issues (Reuters)

Argentina's currency stabilized as the central bank there on Wednesday and Thursday declined to support the peso, which has plunged about 16 percent this month. Argentina is seeking a loan from the IMF. (Reuters)

There are no economic reports on today's calendar, but investors look to three speeches from leading Fed officials for signals on growth, inflation and any talk about the future for interest rates. (CNBC)

* Cramer: Fed raising rates too quickly may halt 'red hot' economy (CNBC)

Nordstrom (JWN) beat estimates by 8 cents with quarterly earnings of 51 cents per share. The department store operator also beat on revenue. But same store sales growth disappointed. The stock was sinking about 7 percent in the premarket. (CNBC)

Shares of Campbell Soup (CPB) were under pressure in the premarket after company CEO Denise Morrison announced her retirement, effective immediately. Campbell warned on outlook, though it did beat on quarterly earnings and matched estimates on revenue. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

The former son-in-law of Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of Trump's campaign, has reportedly cut a plea deal with the Justice Department that requires him to cooperate with other criminal probes. (Reuters)

* How a Russian oligarch linked to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen turned a California state park into a mini Moscow (CNBC)

President Trump gives a boost to criminal justice reform efforts today, hosting a summit at the White House aimed at bridging the partisan divide in Congress and the states to shrink the nation's prison population. (USA Today)

* Trump administration to tie health facilities' funding to abortion restrictions (NY Times)

House Republicans are bracing for a fight today over the farm bill, with GOP lawmakers sharply divided over everything from sugar subsidies to food stamp benefits that could jeopardize passage. (USA Today)

Uber's chief product officer is leaving the ride-hailing giant, the latest in over a dozen senior executive departures since last year when Dara Khosrowshahi took over as CEO from co-founder Travis Kalanick to improve the company's reputation after a string of scandals. (Reuters)

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk detailed the Boring Company's plans to build mass transit tunnels beneath Los Angeles, saying the fare for the up-to-150 mph Loop system would cost $1. (CNBC)

PayPal (PYPL) is buying European financial tech firm iZettle for $2.2 billion. The largest acquisition in PayPal's history would accelerate the company's move into brick-and-mortar stores around the world. (CNBC)

Microsoft (MFST) co-founder Bill Gates told an audience at a recent meeting of his philanthropic organization that President Trump twice asked him the difference between HPV and HIV. (CNBC)

Amgen's (AMGN) migraine prevention treatment Aimovig won FDA approval, making it the first such drug to do so. The injectable will have a list price of $6,900 per year, less than some analysts had expected. (Reuters)

A floating Pacific island is in the works with its own government, cryptocurrency and 300 houses. It's a pilot program in partnership with the government of French Polynesia. (CNBC)

Meghan Markle will be walked down the aisle at tomorrow's royal wedding to Prince Harry by her future father-in-law Prince Charles, who stepped in after the bride's dad fell ill just days before the ceremony. (AP)

STOCKS TO WATCH

The CBS (CBS) board voted to issue a special dividend that would cut the Redstone family's voting power to about 20 percent from 80 percent, but the move cannot take effect unless it can overcome legal challenges by Shari Redstone.

The toy mogul behind Bratz dolls offered to merge his MGA Entertainment with Mattel (MAT). But Mattel has rejected the approach, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Billionaire David Tepper's Appaloosa Management won FTC clearance to take an activist position in drug-maker Allergan (AGN). Allergan said it welcomes all investments in the company.

AmTrust Financial Services (AFSI) is under fire from activist billionaire Carl Icahn, who has disclosed a 9.38 percent stake in the company. Icahn is fighting an attempt to take the compensation insurer private.

Japan's Fujifilm is planning to sue Xerox (XRX). The U.S. photocopier firm abandoned its $6.1 billion merger deal this week in a settlement with activist investors, including Icahn.

WATERCOOLER

Ryan Reynolds' anti-hero sequel, R-rated Deadpool 2, in theaters nationwide Friday, returns with relentless lampooning and scattershot jokes that made the first movie a successful hit. (USA Today)