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Morning Brief

Stocks to rise | Apple makes cuts at autonomous vehicle unit | Shutdown enters Day 34

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were higher this morning after stocks managed to rally before the close Wednesday. That gave the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq their fifth gains in six sessions, and made up for at least part of Tuesday's losses. (CNBC)

* Recession fears are spreading, but Goldman Sachs says don't worry (CNBC)

Apple (AAPL) cut more than 200 employees from its autonomous vehicle group known as Project Titan, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to CNBC. A spokesperson said the company still sees opportunity in the market.

The European Central Bank will issue an interest rate decision at 7:45 a.m. ET. Here in the U.S., the Labor Department is out with its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Energy Department releases its usual Thursday look at natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET. (CNBC)

Earnings reports out this morning include American Airlines (AAL), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and Southwest Airlines (LUV). Dow component Intel (INTC) and Starbucks (SBUX) lead today's list of after-the-bell earnings reports. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Donald Trump said last night that he would comply with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's request that he should not hold a State of the Union address until the ongoing partial government shutdown comes to a close. (CNBC)

Boeing (BA), in a statement to CNBC, warned of bigger impacts on its business and the aviation sector if the shutdown drags on. The company, along with other aerospace and defense firms, is slated to report earnings next week.

* 'The rent is not going to happen.' TSA officers brace for second missed paycheck (CNBC)

Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, postponed his plan to testify before Congress because of concerns about safety. "Ongoing threats" to Cohen's family from Trump and the president's current personal attorney were cited. (CNBC)

The International Monetary Fund's Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said in Davos that the slowdown in China's economy is both fine and legitimate. While growth has been a concern, it looked to be under control, she said. (CNBC)

* Jamie Dimon: US economy is like a ship that could hit a 'slowdown or recession' (CNBC)
* Davos divided: Titans of business are split over the chances of a global recession (CNBC)

Renault CEO and Chairman Carlos Ghosn has resigned, and the French car maker's board is meeting today to replace him, removing an obstacle to a sustainable relationship with Nissan. (WSJ)

UnitedHealth (UNH) is suing one of its former executives for stealing trade secrets and taking them to a firm they consider a direct competitor — Amazon's (AMZN) new health venture with Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) and J.P. Morgan (JPM). (CNBC)

Details about Tesla's (TSLA) restructuring emerged after it announced a 7 percent workforce reduction. Tesla is asking laid-off employees to cooperate in any claims against or by the company, and to adhere to a strict non-disparagement agreement. (CNBC)

* BuzzFeed tells employees it will lay off 15% of staff (Axios)

Microsoft (MSFT) said its Bing search service had been blocked in China and that it is now determining its next step. Bing is the latest foreign technology service to experience a shutdown in China. (The Financial Times)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Ford Motor (F) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 30 cents per share, two cents below estimates, with revenue above forecasts. Ford lost money in every global region except North America, and last week had provided a downbeat 2019 outlook along with preliminary fourth quarter numbers.

Texas Instruments (TXN) beat estimates by two cents with adjusted quarterly profit of $1.26 per share, with the chipmaker's revenue essentially in line with forecasts. The company did warn that demand continues to slow, echoing the sentiments of other chip companies in recent days, and issued lighter than expected guidance for the current quarter.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) fell seven cents below estimates with adjusted quarterly profit of 77 cents per share, and the casino operator's revenue also came in below analyst projections. The company did post better than expected results in the key Macau market, where it has invested heavily in drawing VIP customers.

Facebook (FB) is the target of an effort by advocacy groups who are urging the FTC to seek a breakup of the social media giant. The groups want to see Facebook forced to unwind the acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, among other measures.

Norfolk Southern (NSC) raised its quarterly dividend to 86 cents per share from 80 cents.

PG&E (PCG) said it will cost between $75 billion and $150 billion to comply with a judge's order to inspect its power grid and remove trees that could fall into power lines and cause fires.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) fired chief operating officer and interim chief financial officer Ian Smith for unspecified violations of the drug maker's conduct policy.

Canada Goose (GOOS) was downgraded to "market perform" from "outperform" at Wells Fargo, which cited valuation and consumer engagement trends for the maker of outdoor apparel.

Xilinx (XLNX) reported quarterly profit of 93 cents per share, eight cents above estimates, while the semiconductor maker's revenue also came in above Street forecasts. Xilinx also gave strong guidance for the full year.

WATERCOOLER

Amazon (AMZN) is launching a new self-driving delivery device called Scout, and it's adorable. Scout is the size of a "small cooler" and can roll along sidewalks, delivering packages to a customer's doorstep. (CNBC)