Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to build on records, Wilbur Ross in hot water, and Amazon's Prime Day


U.S. stock futures were modestly higher this morning after a record-setting week. The S&P 500 rose for four straight days, and its record Friday close was also its first finish over the 3,000 level. The Dow was riding a three-day win streak ahead of Monday's session. The Nasdaq was up in three of the past four sessions. The Dow and Nasdaq also closed at records Friday. (CNBC)

China released second-quarter figures today showing that its economy slowed to 6.2%, the weakest rate in at least 27 years, as the country's trade war with the U.S. took its toll. However, many outside experts have long expressed skepticism about the veracity of China's GDP report, saying the government there may be putting in a floor. (CNBC)

* Trump tweets: 'This is why China wants to make a deal' (Reuters)

Just one U.S. economic report is out today, with the New York Fed issuing its July Empire State manufacturing index at 8:30 a.m. ET. Meanwhile, Citigroup (C) is out with quarterly earnings this morning, the first of the major financial institutions reporting this week. Dow Transportation component JB Hunt (JBHT) is out with quarterly results after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

Shares of Galapagos (GLPG) were soaring about 15% after Gilead Sciences (GILD) agreed to invest $5.1 billion to raise its stake in and partner with the Belgium-Dutch biotech company. The Gilead investment in Galapagos comes nearly four years after the firms partnered to develop a drug targeting inflammatory diseases. (Reuters)

Bitcoin fell sharply this morning, down 10% to 10,175, before recovering. The reason for the downward move was not immediately clear. But it happened after President Trump said last week, on Twitter, that he was "not a fan of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air." (CNBC)


Trump has told aides and allies that he's considering removing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross after a stinging Supreme Court defeat on adding a citizenship question to the census, NBC News reports. The president and Ross have a long, personal relationship but some officials expect a departure as soon as this summer. The Census Bureau falls under the Commerce Department.

Trump told Democratic congresswomen they should return to the countries they came from, appearing to be talking about Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, all women of color and three of whom were born in the United States. (CNBC)

Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden is unveiling today a health plan intended to preserve the most popular parts of Obamacare, from Medicaid expansion to protections for patients with preexisting conditions, and build on them with a new government-run public insurance option. (Politico)

Under the headline, "How Joe Biden became the Democrats' anti-busing crusader," The New York Times conducted an review into Biden's role in the 1970s to lead a Senate effort to end court-ordered busing. The 2020 Democratic hopeful back then aligned with segregationists and called the practice a "liberal train wreck."

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel said the FBI and the CIA should investigate if Google (GOOGL) has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence. Thiel blasted the Alphabet-owned Google for its work in China, saying the search engine giant was "engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the U.S. military." (CNBC)

Facebook (FB) is reportedly close to settling with the Federal Trade Commission by paying a $5 billion fine. The FTC has been conducting a probe of Facebook's privacy practices. FTC commissioners broke along party lines, 3-2, with the GOP majority lining up to support the pact while Democratic commissioners objected. (Wall Street Journal)

A proposal to prevent big technology companies from functioning as financial institutions or issuing digital currencies has been circulated for discussion by the House Financial Services Committee. In a sign of widening scrutiny after Facebook's proposed Libra digital coin, the bill proposes a fine of $1 million per day for violation of such rules. (Reuters)

Chinese tech company Huawei plans to lay off hundreds of employees in America as it struggles with a blacklist imposed by the Trump administration over national security concerns. The layoffs are reportedly expected to hit Huawei's U.S. development subsidiary Futurewei, which employs 850 people in research labs throughout the U.S. (CNBC)

Boeing's (BA) 737 Max could remain grounded into 2020, according to government and industry officials who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. Following United and Southwest, American Airlines (AAL) extended its cancellations of flights involving the jet into early November. These are the only three U.S. airlines with 737 Max jets in their fleets.

Amazon (AMZN) kicked off its first 48-hour Prime Day run today. The retail giant said last year's day of deals and discounts was its biggest yet as it sold 100 million products. Having those extra hours this year will likely end in even better results. After all, people don't want to be left out. (CNBC)


Sealed Air (SEE) was downgraded to "underweight" from "sector weight" at KeyBanc, pointing to weak volume trends for the industrial gas maker as well as the degree of balance sheet leverage.

Crocs (CROX) was upgraded to "overweight" from "neutral" at Piper Jaffray, based on the belief that the shoe maker has been seeing solid traffic.

International Speedway (ISCA) and Speedway Motorsports (TRK) were both downgraded to "underperform" from "market perform" at Wells Fargo, which points to a lack of upside potential given takeover offers in play for both race car track operators.

UBS lowered its rating on shares of General Electric (GE) to "neutral" from "buy," saying UBS was "taking a breather after recent stock outperformance." Embattled GE has seen its stock surge more than 42% in 2019.

Tiffany (TIF) was downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at Citi, based on concerns about near-term dynamics despite what Citi sees as good long-term moves by management at the luxury goods retailer.


Sony's (SNE) "Spider-Man: Far From Home" dominated the U.S. box office this past weekend, collecting $45 million, followed by Paramount's disaster thriller "Crawl," which brought in $12 million and Disney's (DIS) R-rated "Stuber," with $8 million. (Variety)