Morning Brief

What to watch today: Stocks drift, 'naked economic terrorism,' and Disney CEO on abortion laws



U.S. stock futures were drifting ahead of the Thursday Wall Street open, but projected gains would barely make a dent in the losses seen this month, as threats from a U.S.-China trade war loom. The Dow's close Wednesday was its lowest since Feb. 11, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished at their lowest levels since March 8. (CNBC)

* Treasury yields, which recently sank to multiyear lows, tick higher amid recession fears (CNBC)
* Bond market gives ominous warnings about the global economy (NY Times)

We're set today for a jam packed economic calendar. Today's second reading of first quarter GDP and weekly jobless claims are both out at 8:30 a.m. ET. The National Association of Realtors releases April pending home sales at 10 a.m. ET. (CNBC)

* US slipped to third place in a ranking of most competitive economies (CNBC)

Dollar General (DG) and Dollar Tree (DLTR) are among the companies out with quarterly earnings this morning. Uber (UBER) releases its first earnings report as a public company after the closing bell. Costco (COST), Gap (GPS), Ulta Beauty (UTLA), Williams-Sonoma (WSM), Dell (DELL), and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB) are also out this afternoon. (CNBC)

Shares of PVH Corporation (PVH) were sinking more than 10% in the premarket, after the company behind Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger cut its full-year forecast as it absorbs the impact of higher China tariffs. Quarterly revenue missed estimates. However, earnings slightly beat. (CNBC)


Provoking trade disputes is "naked economic terrorism", a senior Chinese diplomat said today, ramping up the rhetoric against the U.S., amid a bitter trade war showing no signs of ending soon. China's vice foreign minister told reporters China opposed the use of trade sanctions, tariffs and protectionism. (Reuters)

* 'Don't say we didn't warn you': Phrase from China signals trade war could get even worse (CNBC)
* Pentagon working to reduce US reliance on Chinese rare earth minerals after trade war threat (CNBC)
* US imposes new anti-dumping duties on Chinese mattresses, beer kegs (CNBC)

Malaysia tries to use Huawei technology "as much as possible," said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, criticizing the U.S. for its trade and security actions against China. "We have to accept that the U.S. cannot forever be the supreme nation in the world that can have the best technology," he added. (CNBC)

Vice President Mike Pence becomes the highest-ranking Trump administration official to visit Ottawa. Today's trip comes a year after the president insulted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. (USA Today)

Russian misinformation campaigns ahead of the 2020 election are targeting health fears. Some have been falsely claiming 5G wireless technology can be linked to cancer, autism, and other health problems. Other Russian trolls have been fueling the anti-vaccination movement. (Axios)

* Pelosi: Fake video shows Facebook were 'willing enablers' of Russian election interference (CNBC)
* Technology makes voting lines move faster but also makes elections less secure (NPR)

Despite escalating tensions, the Trump administration does not seek war with Iran, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters. "When the president says he doesn't want a war with Iran, I think that is pretty clear," he said. (CNBC)

President Donald Trump said he was unaware of any effort to move the USS John S. McCain that was stationed near the site of his recent speech in Japan. "I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy ship," Trump wrote on Twitter. (Reuters & CNBC)

Special counsel Robert Mueller broke his silence on his nearly two-year investigation, saying that "if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." Mueller also cited a long-standing Justice Department policy barring the prosecution of a sitting president for a federal crime. (CNBC)

Trump doesn't want Roy Moore getting in the way of Republicans winning back a Senate seat next year in the reliably red state of Alabama. "I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win. But he didn't, and probably won't," Trump tweets. (CNBC)

Louisiana lawmakers, backed by the state's Democratic governor, voted to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, joining a slew of anti-abortion legislation passed in the South in recent months. The restriction could prohibit abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. (New York Times)

* The last time the Supreme Court was invited to overturn Roe v. Wade, a surprising majority was unwilling (Washington Post)

Walt Disney chief Bob Iger told Reuters it would be "very difficult" for the media company to keep filming in Georgia if a new abortion law takes effect. Disney (DIS) filmed "Black Panther" and "Avengers: Endgame" in the southern state.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg offered a personal apology to relatives of the 346 people killed in two fatal crashes of its 737 Max planes, which aviation authorities across the world grounded in mid-March. He also said the company has work to do to restore the flying public's trust. (CNBC)

Barclays cut its price target on Tesla (TSLA), saying the market is finally coming around to the investment firm's thesis on the automaker. In a research report, Barclays said Tesla is "stalling as a niche automaker," and cut its 12-month price target to $150 from $192. (CNBC)

Fiat Chrysler's (FCAU) proposal to merge with Renault is facing scrutiny in France, where some are questioning whether the plan will put jobs at risk. The two automakers are expected to join and create the world's third-largest auto maker but unions, the government, and some executives remain skeptical. (WSJ)

McDonalds (MCD) is opening its new flagship store in Times Square today, expected to be its busiest in the U.S. It boasts digital menu boards, 18 self-order kiosks, and wireless mobile charging stations at tables. (CNBC)


Blackstone (BX) sold more than $1 billion in shares of Invitation Homes (INVH). Blackstone had launched the single-family home landlord after the financial crisis, and the shares are now trading near a record high amid rising rents and strong demand.

Twilio (TWLO) announced a $750 million stock offering, with underwriters being given the option to sell an additional $112.5 million in shares in the cloud-computing company. The company's stock has soared more than eight-fold from its 2016 debut to over $129 as of Wednesday's close.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW) beat estimates by 6 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of $1.31 per share, with the cybersecurity company's revenue also beating Wall Street forecasts. However, it gave a weaker-than-expected current quarter forecast as acquisitions negatively impact its bottom line.

Keysight Technologies (KEYS) reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.22 per share, beating estimates of 98 cents. The provider of electronics technology also saw revenue come in above Street forecasts, as it saw growth in 5G and automotive markets. The company also issued an upbeat forecast.

Veeva Systems (VEEV) beat estimates by 5 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of 50 cents per share, with revenue also beating forecasts. Veeva is a provider of cloud software for the life sciences industry.

Citigroup (C) was upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" at Goldman Sachs, which thinks the bank has a realistic path to growth in key metrics next year even without strengthening global growth or higher interest rates.

Verizon (VZ) was downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at UBS, based on a valuation that it feels is in line with historical trends. UBS does say that Verizon is well-positioned as a defensive investment.


The Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge attraction will debut tomorrow at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, where record crowds are expected. If you're one of the lucky few headed to the resort this month, check out CNBC's guide to the galaxy far, far away.

* Disney CEO Iger says he doesn't think Disney is too reliant on 'Star Wars' (CNBC)