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What to watch today: Bonds flash recession signal and China blames US for Hong Kong protests

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a lower open on Wall Street, following Monday's sharp sell-off and Tuesday's rebound rally. Tuesday's gain for the Dow was its largest in two months, and the S&P 500 also staged an impressive comeback. However, over the past two trading days, both are virtually flat. (CNBC)

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note today broke below the 2-year rate, an odd bond market phenomenon that has been a reliable indicator for economic recessions. The move reflects increasing worries about the global economy as investors rush into safe-haven assets. (CNBC)

* China fixes its daily yuan midpoint at 7.0312 — stronger than expected (CNBC)
* China's July industrial output rose 4.8% — slowest in 17 years (Reuters)
* $1 trillion US budget deficit is one big reason the Fed may have to cut rates (CNBC)

The United States Trade Representative office said new tariffs on certain consumer items would be delayed until Dec. 15, while other products were being removed from the new China tariff list altogether. The duties had been set to go into effect on Sept. 1, so the announcement eased concerns about the holiday shopping season. (CNBC)

* Mattel, Hasbro surge after US delays tariffs on China-made toys (CNBC)
* Retail stocks surge after tariffs for clothing, footwear delayed (CNBC)

The only economic report on today's calendar comes at 8:30 a.m. ET with the release of July import prices. Tomorrow, it's really going to be busy, with the latest figures on initial jobless claims, productivity, retail sales, the New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing index, August Philly Fed index, July industrial production figures, June business inventories and the National Association of Home Builders' August sentiment index.

* Weekly mortgage refinances spike 37% in one week as rates fall further (CNBC)

Retailer Macy's (M) is out with quarterly earnings this morning, with Canada Goose (GOOS), and China's Luckin Coffee (LK) also reporting. Dow component Cisco Systems (CSCO) is out with quarterly earnings after the bell this afternoon, along with Agilent (A) and NetApp (NTAP). (CNBC)

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IN THE NEWS TODAY

Flights resumed at Hong Kong's airport today after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence that highlight the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. (AP)

A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry claimed that recent comments from American lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demonstrate that Washington's real goal is to incite chaos in Hong Kong. Months of protests and large-scale disruptions have thrust the city into the global spotlight. (CNBC)

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper may end his presidential bid and enter the race for Colorado's Senate seat, the New York Times reported. The move could give Democrats a strong candidate to challenge the Republican-held Senate.

* Silicon Valley execs are making early bets on 2020 Democratic presidential candidates (CNBC)

The warden of the federal jail in New York City where wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide was replaced on orders of Attorney General William Barr pending investigations into the incident. The Bureau also placed two staffers on administrative leave as probes into the death of the accused child sex trafficker continue. (CNBC)

* 4chan user posted about Jeffrey Epstein's death before it was public (NBC News)

CBS and Viacom have agreed to merge, ending years of on-and-off talks. The new company will be called ViacomCBS, and Viacom's CEO, Bob Bakish, will be the CEO of the combined company. Joe Ianiello, who was serving as CBS CEO since last year, will be the chairman of CBS and will be in charge of CBS assets after the merger. (CNBC)

The Federal Trade Commission is prepared to break up major technology companies if necessary by undoing past mergers, Chairman Joe Simons said, as the regulator probes anti-competitive practices. He said breaking up a company is challenging, but could be the right remedy to rein in dominant companies and restore competition. (Reuters)

Alphabet Google (GOOGL) unit, Facebook (FB) and Amazon (AMZN) are among the companies that will testify next week at a U.S. government hearing on the French government's digital services tax. In July, the French Senate approved a 3% levy that will apply to revenue from digital services earned in France by big tech companies. (Reuters)

* Amazon says its facial recognition can now identify fear (CNBC)
* Why more tech companies are launching 'lite' apps (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Shares of Tilray (TLRY) was falling about 9% in premarket trading after the company reported a wider-than-expected loss. The cannabis producer did see revenue beat forecasts, and said the company would "potentially" be announcing new supply deals in the coming months.

RealReal (REAL) had better-than-predicted losses in its first quarterly report since going public in late June. The online seller of secondhand luxury goods also saw revenue beat estimates. The stock was surging about 12% in the premarket this morning.

Qualcomm (QCOM) named former Palo Alto Networks (PANW) chairman and CEO Mark McLaughlin as Chairman, replacing Jeff Henderson. Former Cardinal Health (CAH) CFO Henderson will remain on the board and continue to chair the chip maker's audit committee. Qualcomm shares were under some pressure.

Myriad Genetics (MYGN) fell short of forecasts of adjusted quarterly profit and revenue. The company cited lower than expected reimbursements for its expanded carrier screening test, but said it is more optimistic going forward. The stock was losing about a quarter of its value in premarket trading.

WATERCOOLER

Greta Thunberg will set sail today for a two-week journey from England to New York in order to participate in September's United Nations climate talks. The 16-year-old climate activist refuses to fly because of the carbon footprint. (NY Times)

Correction: This version corrects the economic reports coming out Wednesday and those released on Thursday.