Modest gains seen at Wall Street open after talk of US-China trade discussion

BY THE NUMBERS

Futures were higher this morning, but a theme recently is the lack of across-the-board consistency. The S&P 500 has a three-day win streak, but the Nasdaq has been down in five of the past six sessions. The Dow posted its second straight positive session. (CNBC)

* Cramer finds ways to invest in the rise of small business optimism (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk said customers may face longer response times to requests for info due to a significant increase in vehicle delivery volume. Musk said that resolving the issue is "our top priority." The stock was 1 percent lower premarket. (CNBC)

Apple (APPL) unveiled its newest iPhones: the iPhone XR, starting at $749; iPhone XS, starting at $999, and iPhone XS Max, starting at $1,099. It also announced a new version of the Apple Watch with a 30 percent larger screen. (CNBC)

* iPhone prices rose overall, but one model may snare those who sat out 2017's X (CNBC)

The government will issue its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, with consensus forecasts calling for 210,000 new claims for the week ending September 8. That would be up by 7,000 from the prior week. (CNBC)

At the same time, the August Consumer Price Index will be out, expected to show a 0.3 percent increase in the headline number and a 0.2 percent rise in the ex-food and energy rate. Both of those measures had increased by 0.2 percent in July. (CNBC)

The ECB will issue a statement and interest rate decision at 7:45 a.m. ET, following its regular policy meeting. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic will deliver a speech on monetary policy at 1:15 p.m. ET in Jackson, Mississippi. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

The U.S. is seeking to restart trade talks with China. Sources familiar with the U.S.-China negotiations told CNBC that the United States is in the early stages of proposing a new round of trade talks with China in the near future.

The Senate passed a bipartisan spending package 92 to 5. It will pay for veterans affairs, military construction and other programs for 2019. The legislation is expected to pass the House and then go to President Donald Trump's desk. (Washington Post)

A new video published on Breitbart News showed top executives at Google and its parent company, Alphabet (GOOGL), responding in dismay to Trump's election at an all-hands meeting shortly after the presidential election in 2016.

Paul Manafort is in talks with special counsel Robert Mueller about a plea deal, according to the Washington Post. But he is also reportedly resistant to cooperating with prosecutors investigating his former client, Trump.

Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights as it zeroes in on the southeastern coast, forecasters said this morning. (AP)

* Why Florence is so unusual — and so dangerous (Axios)
* As Hurricane Florence approaches, these hospitals are in the storm's path (CNBC)

The rate of Americans without health insurance held steady at a historic low of 8.8 percent in the first year of the Trump administration, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. (CNBC)

U.S. and Cuban officials will meet later today in an effort to determine the method and motive behind mystery "health attack" incidents in Havana that have injured American diplomats and began nearly two years ago. (AP)

New data obtained by The New York Times showed that detention of migrant children has skyrocketed to its highest levels ever, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 children in custody in May 2017.

A man went on a shooting rampage in one of the major cities of California's agricultural heartland last night. He killed his wife and four others before turning the gun on himself, according to authorities. (USA Today)

Jet.com, the e-retailer owned by Walmart (WMT), is upping the competition against Amazon (AMZN) with a redesigned website, more merchandise, faster delivery and a slew of other upgrades. Here are the details. (CNBC)

Adobe Systems (ADBE) is in talks to buy marketing software firm Marketo, according to sources quoted by Reuters. Marketo is a privately-held cloud-based marketing software company.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical is reportedly mulling the idea of selling Shire's (SHPG) eye-care business once it completes its $62 billion purchase of the British drug maker. Bloomberg reports that Takeda is considering the move to cut debt.

Hershey (HSY) will buy snack-maker Pirate Brands from B&G Foods (BGS) for $420 million in cash. The chocolate-maker expects to close the deal before the end of the year.

Equifax (EFX) believes it was the victim of a theft by Chinese spies, according to people familiar with the matter quoted by The Wall Street Journal. The previously undisclosed incident involving the credit reporting agency is said to have occurred two years before the massive data breach that occurred in 2017.

WageWorks (WAGE) has set up a special committee to examine an earlier investigation into financial irregularities at the employee benefits administrator. The company is still in the process of reviewing its financial statements for 2017. Separately, WageWorks said Chairman Joseph Jackson and board member Mariann Byerwalter have resigned.

SunTrust Banks (STI) was downgraded to "neutral" from "overweight" at Piper Jaffray, which cites several factors including valuation. The stock has risen by more than 29 percent over the past year.

WATERCOOLER

Following Apple's (APPL) fall event in Cupertino on Wednesday, CNBC's Todd Haselton got a first look at the U.S. consumer tech giant's three new iPhones and Apple Watch. Take a look at all the new features.