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What to watch today: Dow seeks relief, China's currency shot, and Barneys files for bankruptcy

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher Wall Street open ahead of the Tuesday session, something that may have seemed highly unlikely after Dow futures fell more than 600 points in early trading last night. Nonetheless, stocks are coming off their largest one-day losses of 2019, with the Dow riding a five-day losing streak and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq down for six days in a row. The Nasdaq's losing streak is its longest since November 2016.

* Jim Cramer says to think before you sell: 'It's not 2009' (CNBC)

The U.S. Treasury Department designated China as a currency manipulator, a historic move that no White House had exercised since the Clinton administration. The formal designation came after China allowed its currency to breach a psychological level. Meanwhile, China's state newspaper Tuesday accused the United States of "deliberately destroying international order."(CNBC)

* China fires biggest warning shot yet in trade war and now it's up to Trump to decide how far to go (CNBC)
* China sets its currency midpoint stronger today, at a level below the 7-yuan-per-dollar level (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the Labor Department's Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, is out at 10 a.m. ET. On the earnings front, Blue Apron (APRN) and Mallinckrodt (MNK) are among the companies issuing quarterly results this morning. Dow stock Walt Disney (DIS) leads today's after-the-bell list. Earnings from Match Group (MTCH), Papa John's (PZZA), and Weight Watchers (WW) are also out this afternoon.

* Former Fed chairs Volcker, Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen call for independent central bank (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Donald Trump imposed a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the U.S., sharply escalating an economic and diplomatic pressure campaign aimed at removing socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power. The action bans U.S. companies from dealings with the Venezuela government. (Reuters)

The National Rifle Association spent $1.6 million during the first half of the year lobbying members of Congress against laws that would enact stricter background checks for people buying guns. Calls for tougher background checks and gun control in general have increased yet again in the wake of three mass shootings that have left more than 30 people dead. (CNBC)

* Sorkin open letter to Walmart's CEO: You Have the Power to Curb Gun Violence. Do It. (NY Times)

Ten U.S. senators are calling on Alphabet (GOOGL) to take "immediate action" to convert its growing number of contractors to full-time employees after six months of work. The demand follows reports that said Google employed 121,000 contract employees and 102,000 full-time employees, with contractors making significantly less. (CNBC)

* Tesla has started a new anti-fraud department, according to a recent job listing (CNBC)

After months of anticipation, Apple (AAPL) has invited some select customers to apply for its Apple Card. Apple CEO Tim Cook previously said during its third quarter earnings call that the new credit card, released in partnership with Goldman Sachs (GS), would be released in August. (CNBC)

Barneys New York, an icon of New York retail, filed for bankruptcy early this morning, with a plan to significantly reduce its footprint, as it looks for a buyer to stave off liquidation. The filing makes the luxury department store the latest victim of the retail upheaval, as shoppers buy online and from brands directly. (CNBC)

Victoria's Secret owner L Brands (LB) is about to lose its chief marketing officer Edward Razek, who's pushed the retailer's sexy image as long as he's been there since the early 1980s. CEO Les Wexner said in an internal memo circulated to staff, which was obtained by CNBC, that Razek told him a few weeks ago he wanted to resign in August. (CNBC)

* Victoria's Secret casts first openly transgender woman as a model (NY Times)

Boston-based online security start-up Cybereason said today it raised $200 million in new funds from Japan's SoftBank and its affiliates. That brings the total amount of funds the start-up raised to $400 million since it was founded in 2012. Other backers include Lockheed Martin, CRV and Spark Capital. (CNBC)

* Tencent in talks to buy stake in Universal Music Group (WSJ)

Local media company New Media (NEWM) will buy USA Today-owner Gannett (GCI) in a $1.4 billion deal, creating the biggest newspaper owner in the United States as publishers struggle with readers shifting to online sources for news. New Media and Gannett are the largest U.S. newspaper owners by circulation. (Reuters)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Shake Shack (SHAK) beat Wall Street forecasts of adjusted quarterly profit and revenue. Same-restaurant sales were up, and the company also raised its full-year forecast as digital sales rise.

Pershing Square's Bill Ackman has sold his stakes in United Technologies (UTX) and ADP (ADP), according to a source who spoke to CNBC.

Marriott (MAR) matched forecasts with its adjusted quarterly profit, though the hotel chain's revenue missed estimates. Marriott also cut its full-year forecast for the key revenue-per-available-room metric, as weakening business travel impacts results.

Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) soared above expectations of adjusted quarterly profit. The video game maker saw revenue beat estimates as well, and raised its full-year forecast amid ongoing success of its "Red Dead Redemption" and "Grand Theft Auto" franchises.

Avis Budget (CAR) reported mixed earnings on Wall Street. The bottom line was helped by a reduction in expenses as well as its partnerships with Lyft (LYFT) and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Waymo self-driving unit.

Blackstone Group (BX) is taking a 10% to 15% stake in private equity firm BC Partners for about $560 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal could be announced as soon as today.

WATERCOOLER

Celebrity judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie will all return for their third season of ABC's "American Idol." The Disney-owned network (DIS) is on its 18th overall season. (Billboard)