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What to watch today: The Fed's expected rate cut, Apple surges, and 2020 Democrats debate

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a positive Wall Street open, but what happens at Wednesday's close no doubt depends on the Fed's interest rate decision and policy statement at 2 p.m. ET. Central bankers are expected to reduce borrowing costs for the first time since 2008. After logging its best June since 1938, the Dow with one trading day left this month was up 2.25% for July and up 16.6% for all of 2019. (CNBC)

* Fed credibility is at stake as it looks to cut rates under pressure from a vocal president (CNBC)

Another busy morning for earnings includes quarterly results from General Electric (GE) and Spotify (SPOT). Qualcomm (QCOM) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY) are among the after-the-bell profit reports. (CNBC)

* GE shares jump 5% after beating low earnings expectations as cash flow stabilizes (CNBC)
* GE CFO Jamie Miller stepping down, will stay in role during transition (CNBC)
* Spotify shares slip despite reports subscriber growth as the podcast industry booms (WSJ)

Shares of Apple (AAPL) were about 4% higher in the premarket, and if those gains were to hold, the stock would push back towards a $1 trillion market value. Investors were encouraged by better-than-expected quarterly profits and revenue despite a 12% decline in iPhone sales. Services and wearables helped pick up the slack. (CNBC)

* Apple's strength in China boosts sales despite trade tensions (NBC News)
* CEO Tim Cook: We want to continue making Mac Pro in US (CNBC)
* Cook: Apple's credit card, in partnership with Goldman Sachs, launches next month (CNBC)

ADP releases its July look at private sector employment at 8:15 a.m. ET, two days before the government's monthly jobs data. The Chicago purchasing managers index hits at 9:45 a.m. ET. (CNBC)

* Mortgage applications fall for third straight week despite lower interest rates (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Tonight's the second night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate. Frontrunner Joe Biden faces off again with Sen. Kamala Harris. Also on stage tonight will be Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Jay Inslee, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, businessman Andrew Yang, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro. (Vox)

Last night, progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren fended off attacks from more moderate rivals over Medicare for All in the first night of debate. The two candidates rebuffed criticism from lesser known rivals who sought to poke holes in their plans to overhaul health care. (CNBC)

* Marianne Williamson on 'dark psychic force' and other top debate moments (USA Today)

U.S. and Chinese envoys concluded meetings today aimed at ending a tariff war after President Donald Trump rattled financial markets by accusing Beijing of trying to stall. Economists had said quick breakthroughs were unlikely because the two governments face the same disagreements that caused talks to break down in May. (AP)

* Cramer: Wall Street should get ready for Trump to impose more tariffs on China (CNBC)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today he's very hopeful for a quick resumption in nuclear talks with North Korea despite Pyongyang's recent weapons tests that have clouded already uncertain prospects for a return to the table. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to restart talks after a June meeting. (AP)

Immigration authorities have removed more than 900 migrant children from their families, all in the year since Trump officially ended family separations at the southern border. The ACLU filed a motion that asked the judge to clarify a set of standards for child separations. (NY Times)

Trump is working on a proposal to allow the U.S. to import drugs from Canada, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC. It's unclear what the proposal would look like. But Trump has previously supported a plan by lawmakers who said they can lower high prescription drug costs by approving imports from Canada.

Jeffrey Epstein is appearing in a Manhattan court this morning, just days after he was placed on suicide watch. Epstein's lawyers and prosecutors are set to recommend a schedule to address the biggest hurdles in the criminal case against the money manager on child sex trafficking charges. (CNBC)

* Epstein got court documents claiming he raped a teen before he was injured in jail cell (CNBC)

An internal Federal Aviation Administration analysis conducted after the first of two deadly Boeing 737 Max crashes showed the likelihood of a similar crash was high, The Wall Street Journal reports.

WeWork, owner of co-working spaces across the globe, is in talks to acquire real estate-focused software startup SpaceIQ. The transaction could help WeWork convince Wall Street that it's at least somewhat of a technology company as it gears up for an IPO. (CNBC)

Carlyle Group (CG) said today that it would abandon its partnership structure and become a corporation with a single class of shares, going a step further than private-equity peers that have already converted. (WSJ)

STOCKS TO WATCH

FireEye (FEYE) lost 1 cent per share in the second quarter, surprising analysts who had expected a 1-cent profit. While revenue beat estimates, operating expenses were more than 7% higher. The cybersecurity firm company cut its full year guidance. The stock was about 15% lower in the premarket.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) reported in-line profits and revenue. However, AMD gave a third-quarter revenue forecast below analyst projections, as gaming console chip demand falls.

Gilead Sciences (GILD) beat adjusted quarterly profit and revenue estimates. The drugmaker's bottom line got a boost from improved sales of HIV treatments. Gilead also raised its full-year sales forecast.

Amgen (AMGN) reported better-than-expected earnings per share. The biotech giant's revenue also came in above estimates, as sales of newer drugs helped offset a drop for its older treatments that have gone off patent.

Mondelez International (MDLZ) matched Wall Street's estimates of its quarterly earnings, with the snack maker's revenue slightly above Street forecasts. Mondelez did raise its 2019 forecast for organic sales.

Yum China (YUMC) beat estimates by 7 cents with quarterly profit of 46 cents per share, though the restaurant operators revenue was slightly below forecasts. Yum China also said it expected sales growth to "moderate" going forward.

Sotheby's (BID) sold $3.1 billion in art during the first half of 2019, down 10% from a year earlier. The auction house agreed in June to be bought by French telecom magnate Patrick Drahi for $2.7 billion.

WATERCOOLER

Miley Cyrus pulled out of the Woodstock 50 festival, joining a growing list of other high profile acts. Jay-Z, John Fogerty, the Raconteurs, the Lumineers and original Woodstock 1969 performers John Sebastian and Country Joe McDonald have pulled out of the August event. (Variety)