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What to watch today: Futures swing, China threatens countermeasures, and Walmart shares surge

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures, which had been pointing to a strong Wall Street open, swung to losses, after China threatened to take unspecified countermeasures if the U.S. goes ahead with planned new tariffs on Sept. 1. Then better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue from Walmart pushed Dow futures higher again. On Wednesday, the Dow saw its worst drop of the year, 800 points or 3%. It's also tracking for its largest weekly decline of 2019. Going into Thursday's trading session, the Dow was down 7% from its all-time highs in July. (CNBC)

* 30-year Treasury yield falls to new historic low (CNBC)
* Inverted yield curve explained: What it means for your money (CNBC)

China said those countermeasures would be needed because the U.S. tariffs violate a consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump, and get off the right track of resolving disputes via negotiation. (CNBC)

As China ponders its response to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the government in the city announced plans to implement stimulus measures. It also cut its growth forecast to potentially flat for the rest of the year, down from already anemic expectations. (CNBC)

* Trump suggests 'personal meeting' with China's Xi over Hong Kong crisis (CNBC)
* In 'clear warning', Chinese paramilitary forces exercise near Hong Kong (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia has seriously ramped up its oil exports to China in recent months, doubling in the span of a year. During the same period, the kingdom's oil exports to the U.S. dropped by nearly two-thirds. The numbers signal a mix of short-term tactics and long-term strategy for the Saudis. (CNBC)

Shares of Cisco Systems (CSCO), a Dow component, were falling about 9% in the premarket after the networking equipment maker warned about futures earnings and revenue, saying its China business dropped 25%. However, Cisco did beat estimates with quarterly earnings and revenue. (CNBC)

Walmart (WMT) issues quarterly earnings before the bell, with Alibaba (BABA), J.C. Penney (JCP), and Tapestry (TPR), formerly Coach, also reporting. Applied Materials (AMAT) and Nvidia (NVDA) are out after the bell. (CNBC)

* Walmart shares jump 6% on earnings beat, raised outlook (CNBC)

On the U.S. economic calendar, data on jobless claims, productivity, and retail sales, along with the New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing index are all released at 8:30 a.m. ET. July industrial production is issued at 9:15 a.m. ET, while June business inventories and August homebuilder sentiment figures are both out at 10 a.m. ET.

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IN THE NEWS TODAY

John Hickenlooper is expected to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The two-term former Colorado governor, running as a moderate, warned of the perils of extreme partisanship, while struggling with fundraising and low polling numbers. (AP)

Sen. Cory Booker said today he would create a White House office to combat white supremacy and hate crimes if elected, becoming the latest Democratic presidential candidate to call for action after a racially motivated massacre in Texas. (Reuters)

Jeffrey Epstein's autopsy revealed that the convicted sex offender and financier sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, the Washington Post reports. The details add to the mystery surrounding Epstein's apparent suicide while in federal custody on charges of sex trafficking.

* Mystery of alleged Epstein madam Ghislaine Maxwell's whereabouts deepens (CNBC)
* Years after serving jail time, Epstein found a way to meet with Bill Gates on philanthropy (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) is launching a new donations program for third-party sellers that store inventory in Amazon warehouses in the U.S. and U.K. The move follows recent reports of Amazon routinely destroying unsold and unwanted inventory. (CNBC)

* Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway raises Amazon stake by 11%, now worth $947 million (CNBC)

Novartis (NVS), the Swiss drug giant under fire for using manipulated data in a recent drug approval, has fired two top scientists at its AveXis affiliate involved in the project. The FDA threatened to take civil or criminal action against Novartis, saying the drugmaker used data it knew was inaccurate in its application for a $2.1 million gene therapy, Zolgensma. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Boeing (BA) is delaying delivery of an ultra-long-range version of its 777X aircraft. The delay comes as Boeing deals with the ongoing grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft as well as engine issues with the 777X.

Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital took a new stake in Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) during the second quarter, according to an SEC filing. Pershing bought 3.5 million "B" shares, currently worth about $686 million.

Pivotal Software (PVTL) is set to jump after VMWare (VMW) said it would proceed with an agreement to acquire Pivotal's class A shares for $15 per share, nearly 81% above yesterday's closing price.

WATERCOOLER

The pumpkin spice phenomenon died Wednesday at age 16. The cause of death was the existence of Pumpkin Spice Spam. A publicist for Hormel Foods confirmed to NBC News that the company will begin selling a limited edition run of Pumpkin Spice Spam online at Walmart and spam.com on Sept. 23.