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Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to rise, Congress returns and states to investigate Google

BY THE NUMBERS

Following two straight weekly gains, U.S. stock futures were pointing to further gains at the Wall Street open with several key events on the horizon. Aside from volatility over the U.S.-China trade war, investors are looking ahead to Thursday's ECB policy meeting and next week's gathering of Federal Reserve policymakers. (CNBC)

The Dow and S&P 500 have risen for three straight days and six of the past seven trading sessions, and both closed Friday at their highest levels since July 31. The Dow currently sits about 2% below its July all-time high, with the S&P 500 within 1.6% of its own July record. (CNBC)

* Stocks look to reclaim their all-time highs in the week ahead (CNBC)
* The 10-year yield hasn't done this in 20 years, and it could be a bullish sign (CNBC)

China's exports unexpectedly fell in August as shipments to the U.S. slowed sharply, pointing to further weakness in the world's second-largest economy and underlining a pressing need for more stimulus. Beijing is widely expected to announce more support measures in the coming weeks to avert the risk of a sharper economic slowdown. (CNBC)

Today's economic calendar is light, with the government releasing July consumer credit figures at 3 p.m. ET. No earnings reports of note are out this morning. Chinese travel website operator Ctrip.com (CTRP) is scheduled to report after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Congress returns today for the fall session, with mounting pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to address gun violence and election security. The Republican has promised a focus on burying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's legislative priorities, but without a robust GOP agenda it could prove unsatisfying for lawmakers facing restive voters ahead of 2020 elections. (AP)

President Donald Trump is appearing at a campaign rally in North Carolina today on the eve of the state's special election that's seen as a tossup race. A GOP defeat in a red-leaning state could, when combined with a wave of recent bad headlines, portend trouble for Trump's reelection campaign. (AP)

* JP Morgan has created an index to track the effect of Trump's tweets on financial markets: 'Volfefe index' (CNBC)

Mark Sanford, former South Carolina governor and congressman, joined the Republican race against Trump, pursuing an admittedly remote path to the presidency. Sanford joins Joe Walsh, former tea-party-backed, one-term congressman from Illinois, and Bill Weld, former GOP governor of Massachusetts, as primary challengers to Trump. (AP)

J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) is close to winning the lead advisory role for the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, the world's most profitable corporation, edging out rivals for the plum assignment, CNBC reported. A final decision is expected next week though it could still change.

WeWork's parent company is looking at a valuation for its initial public offering that could fall below $20 billion as some investors are pushing the company to pause its planned offering. The Wall Street Journal reported that We Co. and underwriters will meet this week with investors to figure out how to garner demand for an IPO.

A group of states is expected to announce an investigation into Alphabet's Google (GOOGL) this afternoon to examine whether the Silicon Valley tech giant has gotten too big and effective at stomping or acquiring rivals. The probe is the latest blow against big tech companies as antitrust investigations ramp up in the U.S. and around the world. (AP)

* To fill 30,000 jobs, Amazon plans hiring events in 6 cities (AP)

Apple (AAPL) today denied most of a report that alleges the iPhone-maker and its manufacturing partner Foxconn violated Chinese labor law. The law states that temporary hires cannot exceed 10% of the total employed workers, and a New York City-based watchdog found more than half of the workforce at the largest iPhone factory in China last month were temporary hires. (CNBC)

* What to expect from Apple's annual iPhone launch this week (CNBC)

Boeing (BA) suspended load testing for its new 777X aircraft as media reports said a cargo door failed a ground stress test. The Seattle Times reported a cargo door exploded outward during a high-pressure stress test on the ground, during the final test that must be passed as part of the plane's certification by the Federal Aviation Administration. (Reuters)

Target (TGT) said today it will be taking its recently revamped loyalty program, called Target Circle, nationwide beginning Oct. 6. Over the span of 18 months more than 2 million people have already enrolled in Target Circle, according to the retailer, which doesn't require the person to pay a membership fee or have a Target credit card. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Eli Lilly (LLY) said its experimental lung cancer drug shrank tumors in almost 70% of advanced lung cancer patients. The drug was acquired earlier this year when Lilly bought Loxo Oncology for $8 billion.

PG&E (PCG) was offered $2.5 billion by the city of San Francisco for its electrical lines serving the city. PG&E is trying to work its way out of bankruptcy, as it faces billions in liabilities for its role in a series of deadly California wildfires.

HP Inc. (HPQ) was downgraded to "market perform" from "outperform" at Bernstein, which said the computer and printer maker may face greater structural headwinds from the shift to digital communications.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) was upgraded to "buy" from "hold" at Deutsche Bank, which said bearish sentiment regarding the Macau gaming market has created an attractive entry point for medium to longer term investors.

WATERCOOLER

"It: Chapter Two" wasn't able to scare up more ticket sales than the first installment of the two part adaptation of Stephen King's famed novel, but it did manage to have the second-highest horror movie opening of all time. The film, which takes place 27 years after the first film, hauled in $91 million domestically over the last three days. (CNBC)