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Morning Brief

Dow set to drop | Disney pops on earnings | FDA limits flavored e-cigarette sales


Futures were lower this morning after a mixed Thursday, but the major averages are still on track to post their best weekly gains in months. The Dow has been up for four straight days and is on pace for its biggest weekly advance in nearly nine months. (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve approved keeping the federal funds rate in a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. There was no mention of the volatility that has gripped financial markets since mid-October in the central bank's statement. (CNBC)

Fed unwavering in message that interest rates will keep going higher (CNBC)

Disney (DIS) was 2 percent higher in premarket after quarterly earnings beat forecasts. The report concluded a record year for Disney, with results helped by a strong performance by Disney's movie operations as well as higher theme park attendance. (CNBC)

* Disney's new Netflix rival will be called Disney+ and launch late 2019 (CNBC)

E.W. Scripps (SSP), Potbelly (PBPB), and Revlon (REV) are among the few companies set to release earnings this morning, while Athenahealth (ATHN) and GNC (GNC) will issue quarterly numbers after today's closing bell. (CNBC)


A federal judge blocked a permit by President Donald Trump's administration allowing the Keystone XL pipeline. It barred any construction of the long-delayed project until completion of a supplemental environmental review. (WSJ)

The Trump administration unveiled tough new rules on asylum seekers who break border laws. The new rule declares that immigrants who illegally cross the border will be stripped of their eligibility to receive asylum in the U.S. (CNBC)

The FBI said a former Marine combat veteran acted alone, and opened fire in a Los Angeles area bar packed with line-dancing college students, killing 12 people in a mass shooting that stunned a bucolic Southern California community. (Reuters)

President Xi Jinping is attempting to reassure China's private sector that it has nothing to fear from the state. Xi reportedly met entrepreneurs, telling them they "should feel totally reassured" and offered tax breaks and financing help. (CNBC)

Sears Holdings (SHLD) announced it plans to close 40 more stores early next year. This will be in addition to the 142 unprofitable stores the department store chain is already expected to close toward the end of 2018. (CNBC)

* This map shows where Sears is closing stores next (CNBC)

Procter & Gamble (PG) announced it is simplifying its business, organizing the majority of its operations around 6 "small business units" with their own leaders. Activist investor Nelson Peltz had lobbied for the company to simplify. (CNBC)

The FDA plans to limit sales of most flavored e-cigarettes to vape shops and move forward with a ban on menthol cigarettes as it tries to curb "epidemic" levels of teen e-cigarette use, according to senior FDA officials. (CNBC)

Alphabet (GOOGL) unit Google has selected Geisinger Health CEO David Feinberg to define a strategy to coordinate its moves into the $3 trillion health care sector. The company's AI chief Jeff Dean was deeply involved in the process. (CNBC)


Activision Blizzard (ATVI) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 52 cents per share, beating estimates by two cents, with the video game publisher's revenue matching analyst forecasts. However, the shares are being pressured by a weaker than expected current quarter forecast, due in part to weakness in its "Destiny" franchise.

Hertz Global (HTZ) earned adjusted $2.14 per share for its latest quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.71, while the car rental company's revenue also beat Wall Street projections. Hertz said it is pleased with the results of its operational turnaround, with revenue and profit having increased year-over-year for the fourth consecutive quarter.

Dropbox (DBX) beat estimates by five cents with adjusted quarterly profit of 11 cents per share, with the cloud storage company's revenue also beating forecasts. Dropbox also gave an upbeat current quarter revenue forecast on an expansion in its paying customer base.

Yelp (YELP) fell a penny shy of expectations with profit of nine cents per share, and also saw revenue fall short of estimates. The online review site operator said it is addressing the issues that impacted its quarterly results, although it expects them to impact current quarter results as well. Yelp's quarter was impacted in part by no longer requiring business customers to commit to a fixed time period for advertising.

Allstate (ALL) is mulling the sale of its fixed annuities business, according to a Bloomberg report. The unit is said to have a book value of $4 billion to $5 billion.

Finisar (FNSR) will be acquired by II-VI for about $3.2 billion in cash and stock, or $26 per share. The optical components company's stock had closed at $18.88 on Thursday.

The Trade Desk (TTD) earned an adjusted 65 cents per share for the latest quarter, beating the consensus estimate of 50 cents. The developer of programmatic advertising technology also saw revenue come in above Street forecasts. Results were boosted by an increase in the company's international business.


Well this is interesting. Xinhua, China's state-run press agency, has unveiled new "AI anchors." It's not yet clear what tech was used to create the anchors, but they're in line with the recent research in machine learning. (The Verge)