Morning Brief

What to watch today: Fed chief Powell sets stage for rate cut in testimony to Congress


U.S. stock futures turned positive after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell set the stage for an interest rate cut in prepared testimony to Congress. Powell testifies before a House panel today at 10 a.m ET and a Senate panel tomorrow, against the backdrop of slowing economic activity and market expectations for a central bank interest rate cut later this month. (CNBC)

However, Powell is likely to keep the markets, and the White House, guessing about how soon and how deep the Fed might trim rates. The prevailing view is for a 100% chance of a quarter-point rate cut when the Fed meets on July 30-31. (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, wholesale trade figures for May are released around 10 a.m. ET. And MSC (MSM) and AngioDynamics (ANGO) report their latest quarterly earnings before the opening bell. Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and PriceSmart (PSMT) issue their quarterly results after the bell. (CNBC)

* Weekly mortgage applications fall 2.4% as consumers shrug off low rates (CNBC)

J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) is making another bid to persuade banking customers to invest with the firm; this time with a low-cost robo-adviser. After years of development, J.P. Morgan is releasing a digital investing service called You Invest Portfolios. (CNBC)


The U.K. ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, has resigned following the leak of secret cables, in which he described President Donald Trump's administration as "uniquely dysfunctional" and "inept." Trump had criticized Darroch, saying the ambassador was not well thought of in America. (CNBC)

Trump said he's looking "very closely" at how now-Labor secretary Alex Acosta handled a 2007 sex trafficking case involving financier Jeffrey Epstein amid calls for Acosta resign. Acosta, who was U.S. attorney in Miami at the time of the deal, also weighed in on Twitter, saying the "crimes committed by Epstein are horrific." (CNBC)

* Trump says he's 'not a fan' of Epstein; won't explain 'falling out' (CNBC)
* Attorney General Bill Barr won't recuse himself from Epstein prosecution (CNBC)

A federal judge blocked the Justice Department's request to switch its legal team in a case challenging the Trump administration's effort to add a citizenship question to the upcoming census. The Department offered no explanation for the change. (NY Times)

The poor treatment of migrant children at the hands of U.S. border agents in recent months extends beyond Texas to Arizona and include allegations of sexual assault and retaliation for protests, NBC News reported. Trump has pushed back against reports of poor conditions.

* California first state to offer health benefits to adult undocumented immigrants (NPR)

Top U.S. trade officials spoke with their Chinese counterparts, for the first time since the G-20 summit, "to continue negotiations aimed at resolving the outstanding trade disputes" between the world's two largest economies. "Both sides will continue these talks as appropriate," one official said. (CNBC)

AT&T's (T) WarnerMedia announced its new streaming service will be called HBO Max. The service is expected to launch in beta later this year. AT&T has not said how much it will cost. HBO Max will launch publicly in the spring of 2020 and will include 10,000 hours of content, the company said. (CNBC)

Netflix (NFLX) is losing the rights to "Friends" next year when HBO Max launches. Netflix found out last month that it's losing the rights to "The Office" in 2021. Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal plans to include the show in its new streaming service. (CNBC)

Pop star Lady Gaga is launching a line of beauty products exclusively for sale on Amazon (AMZN) in a boost to the online retailer's cosmetics business. The brand, Haus Laboratories, will launch in September for shoppers in nearly a dozen countries, including the United States, Germany and Japan. (Reuters)

Hotel chain Marriott (MAR) was sued by the Washington, D.C., over allegedly deceptive "drip pricing" practices that tacked on hidden fees to hotel bills. According the complaint, Marriott has failed for a decade or more to disclose certain fees when it advertises prices for hotel rooms. (CNBC)

Spending during the second busiest shopping period of the year will be about flat with year-ago levels. Consumers shopping for back-to-school clothing, school supplies and electronics for children in grades K-12 are expected to spend $27.8 billion this year, up just 1.8% from 2018, a Deloitte survey found. (CNBC)

Mercedes-Benz plans to up its game with a high-performance version, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45. Drawing power from an all-new, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, it will punch out 382 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. It's enough to launch from zero to 60 in just four seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. (CNBC)


Shares of Levi Strauss (LEVI) plunged more than 7% in premarket trading after the clothing company reported better than expected second-quarter earnings and revenue but warned that sales growth would slow in the second half of the year.

Shares of Helen of Troy (HELE), which is behind the Revlon, Vicks and Hydro Flask brands, rose more than 8% in premarket trading after raising its forward guidance. The beauty company also beat on fiscal first-quarter earnings and revenue.


The U.S. women's national soccer team gets a ticker-tape parade up lower Manhattan today, in honor of their record-breaking World Cup win. It's the city's first ticker-tape parade since the U.S. women won the 2015 Cup. (AP)