Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to rise, Trump considers interim trade deal, and 'Varsity Blues' sentencing


U.S. stock futures were higher this morning as U.S.-China trade tensions abate, with the Dow poised to register an eighth straight day of gains for the first time since May 2018. The S&P 500 has risen in six of the past seven sessions, and the Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq closed Thursday at their highest since July 30. The S&P 500 now sits just 0.5% below its July 26 record close, while the Dow is about 0.7% below its all-time high close set July 15. (CNBC)

* Treasury yields mixed after ECB cuts rates (CNBC)

The U.S. government's red ink for fiscal 2019 swelled past the $1 trillion mark in August, the first time that level has been eclipsed in seven years. The total shortfall rose to nearly $1.07 trillion, thanks to a difference between revenue and expenses of more than $214 billion in August. The government last saw that large of a fiscal deficit in 2012. (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the government issues August retail sales figures at 8:30 a.m. ET. The University of Michigan is out with its mid-September consumer sentiment index at 10 a.m. ET. The government's report on July business inventories also comes at 10 a.m. ET. No earnings reports of note are out either this morning or after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

* Amazon's Prime Day boosted July retail sales but may cause weakness in August (CNBC)

Goldman Sachs lowered its price target for Apple (AAPL) shares to $165 per share from $187, saying that accounting for a planned Apple TV+ free trial is likely to have a material negative impact on average selling prices. (CNBC)

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President Donald Trump signaled he would consider an interim trade deal with China, even though he would not prefer it. Trump told reporters he would like to ink a full agreement with the world's second largest economy. However, he left the door open to striking a limited deal with Beijing. (CNBC)

A Chinese state news agency said today that U.S. soybeans, pork and some other farm products will be exempt from tariff hikes in a possible goodwill gesture ahead of trade negotiations next month. Soybeans are the biggest U.S. export to China but purchases stopped after Trump hiked tariffs on Chinese imports in a fight over trade and technology. (AP)

* Ahead of trade talks, China makes biggest US soybean purchases since June, traders say (Reuters)
* US-China trade deal coming soon? Big companies are not buying it (CNBC)

Former Vice President Joe Biden wasted no time in taking swings at his two biggest threats in the 2020 Democratic primary at last night's debate. Biden targeted Sens. Bernie Sanders's and Elizabeth Warren's plans for a government-run health-care system and embraced a more moderate position. (CNBC)

* Key takeaways from the Democratic candidates' debate (AP)
* 'No strategy,' 'erratic,' 'haphazard': Democrats pile on Trump over China trade war in 2020 debate (CNBC)
* Kamala Harris on gun massacres: Trump is 'tweeting out the ammunition' (CNBC)
* Andrew Yang will give $1,000 a month to 10 more families (CNBC)

Recent polls reveal a downgrade in Trump's job approval rating on the economy and show he's trailing in head-to-head match-ups against the leading 2020 presidential election Democratic candidates, but a majority of U.S. business leaders believe, at least for now, that he will win reelection. (CNBC)

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, a born New Yorker who has run his business from the city for decades, is moving his office, more than half of his staff and himself to Florida early next year, according to a Reuters report.

WeWork owner The We Company's executives, investors and advisors are discussing curbing the voting power of founder Adam Neumann and removing his co-founder wife from a role in succession planning, Reuters reported. An announcement on the corporate governance could come as soon as today, though plans are still subject to change.

* WeWork to list shares on Nasdaq, make governance changes (WSJ)

Amazon-owned (AMZN) Whole Foods will be withdrawing medical benefits for hundreds of its part-time workers starting Jan. 1, 2020. In the past, employees needed to work at least 20 hours a week to qualify for the health-care plan. Now they will need to work at least 30 hours. (CNBC)

Felicity Huffman will be the first parent sentenced today for her role in a massive college admissions scandal that exposed how well-heeled parents paid a college fixer to get their children into elite universities. Federal prosecutors have said that she should serve a month in prison and pay a $20,000 fine following the 'Varsity Blues' scam. (NBC News)


Broadcom (AVGO) reported mixed quarterly earnings, with adjusted quarterly profit beating consensus estimates but missing on revenue. The chipmaker also gave a cautious forecast for semiconductor market demand.

Square (SQ) is testing a new feature on its popular Cash App that would enable free stock trades, according to a Bloomberg report. The report said that if the feature is successful, it could pose a challenge to more established online brokers like E-Trade (ETFC) and TD Ameritrade (AMTD).

General Electric (GE) CEO Larry Culp told an investment conference he expects asset sales to bring in about $38 billion in cash, as GE moves to pare down its debt load.

Baker Hughes (BHGE) was indicted for allegedly exposing workers to toxic chemicals at a construction site. Two of the oilfield services company's subsidiaries and an employee were also named in the indictment, which involves 25 felony assault charges. Baker Hughes denied the claims and said it was committed to safety for its workers.

Reuters asked a U.S. judge to unseal documents regarding risks related to Merck's (MRK) Propecia baldness drug. Reuters had published a story revealing accusations that Merck did not fully disclose potential risks related to the drug.


There's another "Game of Thrones" prequel series reportedly in the works and this one will focus on the Targaryen family. According to multiple reports, the show is close to being ordered as a pilot. It will be based on George R.R. Martin's "Fire and Blood," a sprawling history of the dragon-riding Targaryen clan and its conquering of Westeros. (CNBC)

"Saturday Night Live" has added its first Asian cast member. The late-night sketch comedy series announced that Bowen Yang, who joined the show as a staff writer last year, was among three new hires for Season 45. (NBC News)