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What to watch today: Mixed market opening, Home Depot sales miss and China calls out big tech

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to modest gains at the Wall Street open, as stocks look to continue a rally that has seen the Dow and S&P 500 rise for 3 straight days and the Nasdaq for 2 consecutive sessions. The averages have all erased most of the deficit incurred in last Wednesday's sell-off, although they still have deficits of 2% or more to make up for the month of August. The two-day gains for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq for last Friday and yesterday were the largest in more than 2 months, since June 4-5.

* Pimco's Ivascyn warns US-China trade breakthrough could trigger a 'powerful snapback' in yields (CNBC)
* Get rid of Irish 'backstop' and Brexit deal can still happen, Boris Johnson tells EU (CNBC)

No economic reports of note are on today's calendar.

On the corporate front, retailers Home Depot (HD), Kohl's (KSS), and TJX (TJX) will be out with quarterly earnings this morning, along with medical device maker Medtronic (MDT), while furniture maker La-Z-Boy (LZB), and apparel retailer Urban Outfitters (URBN) issue quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.

*Home Depot second-quarter sales miss and company cuts outlook amid worries tariffs could slow consumer spending (CNBC)

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IN THE NEWS TODAY

The White House is reportedly considering whether to push for a payroll tax cut to stem a potential economic downturn. However, one administration official later pushed back on the report and said it is not a measure under consideration. President Donald Trump in recent days has lashed out over reports about growing recession fears. (CNBC)

* Trump blasts Scaramucci and tweets video of his former aide praising him (CNBC)

Trump reportedly is backing away from potential support of gun background check legislation. Trump, immediately after two mass shootings that killed 31 people, said there's a potential to tighten background checks. (Washington Post)

Planned Parenthood is withdrawing from the federal Title X family-planning program rather instead of complying with a new Trump administration rule that would prevent it from referring patients for abortions. The Wall Street Journal reported that the organization receives about $60 million a year across its affiliate clinics in federal funding.

China said today it had a right to put out its own views after Twitter and Facebook (FB) said they had dismantled a state-backed social media campaign originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong.Twitter and Facebook have come under fire over showing ads from state-controlled media that criticized the protesters. (Reuters & CNBC)

The U.S. government's decision to add more Huawei affiliates to a blacklist is "unjust" and "politically motivated" and will not help the country advance its technological leadership, Huawei said. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced it was extending a temporary reprieve for Huawei to continue doing business with American companies. (CNBC)

The financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein executed a new will just two days before he was found dead in his New York City jail cell this month, according to probate documents obtained by NBC News. The will bequeaths everything to a trust that probate documents indicate was created on Aug. 8, the same day the will was signed.

United States Steel (X) will temporarily lay off hundreds of workers at its Great Lakes facility in Michigan in coming weeks. In mid-June, the company said it would idle two blast furnaces at its Great lakes and Gary Works plants, citing lower steel prices and softening demand. (Reuters)

State attorneys general from more than a dozen states are reportedly preparing to launch an antitrust investigation of tech giants. The bipartisan group is expected to formally launch its investigation as soon as next month and will look at whether a handful of tech platforms use marketplace powers to decrease competition. (WSJ)

* Trump tweets without evidence that Google 'manipulated' votes in the 2016 election and 'should be sued' (CNBC)

Apple (AAPL) is reportedly planning to spend more than $6 billion on content for its Apple TV+ service. Apple previously said to expect its streaming service focusing on original content to launch in the fall, and a Financial Times report said Apple is looking to turn its service live in the next two months, before Disney+ launches on November 12. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) said the Food and Drug Administration did not approve its new treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, pointing to safety concerns. Analysts had been projecting eventual annual sales for the treatment of nearly $400 million.

Viacom (VIAB) CEO Bob Bakish signed a new 4-year contract to run the combined ViacomCBS when the companies complete their planned merger, according to an SEC filing. Bakish will receive annual compensation of about $31 million, about 55% higher than he received in the most recent fiscal year.

J.C. Penney (JCP) chairman Ronald Tysoe bought 1 million of the retailer's shares last week at 59 cents per share, according to an SEC filing. That comes just a few days after the stock set a record low at 53 cents per share.

Hilton Grand Vacation (HGV) may be the target of a takeover bid by private equity firm Apollo Global (APO), according to a report in the New York Post. The paper said Apollo could bid up to $36 per share for the timeshare company.

Endo International (ENDP) and Allergan (AGN) are both near deals that would settle opioid-related charges and let both companies avoid going to trial in October, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Beyond Meat (BYND) was upgraded to "overweight" from "neutral" at JPMorgan Chase, which sees potential for the plant-based burger maker to acquire new customers as well as valuation following a secondary stock offering.

WATERCOOLER

Lil Nas's viral song "Old Town Road" was dethroned from its No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100, ending its record breaking 19-week tenure at the top. Billie Eilish's "bad guy" took the spot, making it her first No. 1 single. (Pitchfork)