The S&P 500 is closing in on a record high

BY THE NUMBERS

Futures were modestly higher this morning, giving the S&P 500 a shot at moving past its January 26 record high. It currently sits 0.5 percent short of that mark and its Tuesday close was the highest since that date. (CNBC)

* Cramer says index fund buying and buybacks are creating a 'stock shortage' (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) remains on watch following a busy Tuesday that saw CEO Elon Musk tweet about possible plans to take the company private, as well as reports of a $2 billion investment in the automaker from a Saudi Arabia investment fund. Shares were slightly lower in premarket. (CNBC)

* Why Elon Musk wants to take Tesla private (CNBC)
* Experts cast doubt on Musk's envisioned buyout of Tesla (WSJ)

CVS Health (CVS), Mylan (MYL) and The New York Times (NYT) are among the companies reporting quarterly earnings this morning. After-the-bell earnings include 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and U.S. Auto Parts (PRTS). (CNBC)

Investors will get the weekly look at mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association at 7 a.m. ET. Additionally, the Energy Department will report on oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Ohio's closely watched 12th District special election was too close to call last night as Republican Troy Balderson held a razor-thin edge over Democrat Danny O'Connor for a seat the GOP has held for more than three decades, according to NBC News.

* Why Trump's GOP fears this midterm election (CNBC)
* 2018 officially has record number of women nominees (Axios)

China's exports surged more than expected in July despite U.S. duties and its closely watched surplus with the U.S. remaining near record highs. Washington is set to begin collecting 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods later this month. (Reuters)

* Bill Gates says trade issues are 'scary' and could put a 'burden' on global growth and jobs (CNBC)

Rick Gates testified in federal court that his longtime business partner and mentor Paul Manafort suggested appointing one of his bankers to a role in then-president elect Donald Trump's administration. (CNBC)

Trump hosted a dinner with business leaders, including the CEOs of Boeing (BA) and PepsiCo (PEP). The White House said in part, "this is an opportunity for the president to hear how the economy is doing from their perspective." (CNBC)

A tenacious heatwave and relentless winds yesterday plagued California firefighters battling the Mendocino Complex Fire. The fire has grown to more than 450 square miles, becoming the largest in state history. (USA Today)

Amazon (AMZN) announced Prime members can now order groceries from Whole Foods and pick them up from a store within an hour. The service is starting in Sacramento, CA. and Virginia Beach, VA., with more cities getting the offering later in the year. (CNBC)

Drugstore chain CVS Health (CVS) plans to make video visits available nationwide by the end of the year through a partnership with Teladoc Health, CVS' latest pivot away from retail and toward healthcare services. (CNBC)

Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter (TWTR), in a string of tweets defended his company's choice to not join suit with other social networks in removing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Infowars. (Axios)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Walt Disney (DIS) earned an adjusted $1.42 per share for its latest quarter, missing Street forecasts by eight cents, with revenue also falling short of estimates. Disney saw subscriber losses at its sports cable network ESPN, and also spent more on programming and technology.

Papa John's Pizza (PZZA) fell five cents short of estimates with adjusted quarterly profit of 49 cents per share, with revenue also missing forecasts. Comparable store sales at the pizza chain fell 6.1 percent and the company also forecast a 7 to 10 percent drop in the current quarter amid negative publicity surrounding controversial comments made by founder John Schnatter.

Wendy's (WEN) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 14 cents per share, two cents shy of estimates, though the restaurant chain's revenue did beat analyst projections. Same-store sales rose 1.9 percent, marking the 22nd consecutive quarter that Wendy's has posted a same-restaurant sales gain.

Snap (SNAP) lost an adjusted 14 cents per share for its latest quarter, three cents less than Wall Street was anticipating. The Snapchat parent's revenue beat forecasts, even as its average daily user numbers fell. Separately, Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed took a $250 million stake in the company, representing about 2.3 percent of its outstanding shares.

Cigna (CI) said it strongly disagrees with investor Carl Icahn's assertion that the insurance company's deal to acquire pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts (ESRX) is vastly overpriced. Cigna said Icahn's view did not reflect the interests of its shareholders and that the combination would create "tremendous" value.

Avis Budget (CAR) matched Street forecasts with adjusted quarterly profit of 57 cents per share, while revenue for the car rental company was essentially in line with estimates. However, Avis gave full-year revenue guidance that falls below analyst forecasts. Separately, Avis Budget added $250 million to its stock buyback plan.

WATERCOOLER

Home improvement cable network HGTV is the winning bidder for the iconic "Brady Bunch" house used for exterior shots of the popular 1970s TV series, according to multiple reports. The house was hot on the market.