Morning Brief

What to watch today: Stocks set for gains, earnings deluge and fourth Democratic debate

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures appear set for gains at the open, but a handful of key bank earnings could change, or boost, that outlook between now and the opening bell. The major averages are coming off modest Monday losses that were their first in four sessions, although the Dow and S&P 500 are still just about 2% below their July all-time highs. The Nasdaq remains higher for October as we hit the midway point, with the Dow and S&P 500 still down for the month. The tech sector is by far the best performer for the month, with energy posting the biggest losses

Fed's Bullard warns risks remain high and US economy may slow more sharply than expected (CNBC)

High-profile earnings reports from financial companies will flood the tape ahead of the open, including BlackRock (BLK), Charles Schwab (SCHW), Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS), J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Dow components UnitedHealth (UNH) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) also report this morning.

United Airlines (UAL) headlines today's after-the-bell movers, with JB Hunt Transport (JBHT) and Sleep Number (SNBR) also reporting quarterly numbers. On today's economic calendar, the New York Fed's Empire State Manufacturing Index is out at 8:30 a.m. ET.

IN THE NEWS TODAY

A dozen Democratic presidential candidates meet tonight for the most crowded presidential debate in modern history. But it's the three leading candidates, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who face the most intense spotlight that could expose glaring liabilities in their quest for the White House. (AP)

* Fake videos could be the next big problem in the 2020 elections (CNBC)

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, has indicated to associates in recent weeks that Joe Biden's recent struggles against Sen. Elizabeth Warren are making him rethink his decision to stay out of the 2020 Democratic primary. He's only in if Biden drops out before or during the early stages of the primary, CNBC reported.

Today's the deadline for Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Vice President Mike Pence to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the House impeachment investigation, though it's unclear whether they'll comply. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is set to comply with the subpoena today. (USA Today)

* Bolton said to have objected to Ukraine efforts, calling Giuliani a 'hand grenade' (NY Times)
* Former Russia adviser testifies she was alarmed about Ukraine pressure (WSJ)

The House today is set to release a plan to make college more affordable, in order to ease the burden of student debt, boost graduation rates and lift barriers to economic mobility. The plan, when compared with some of the 2020 candidates' higher education proposals, is relatively tame, the Washington Post reported.

* CBO says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's drug pricing plan saves Medicare $345 billion over decade (CNBC)

President Donald Trump signed an executive order sanctioning Turkish officials, hiking tariffs on Turkish steel up to 50% and "immediately" halting trade negotiations with the country. The retaliatory measures followed Trump's decision to order the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria's northern border with Turkey. (CNBC)

* Turkish lira rises as markets refuse to take Trump's tariff threats seriously (CNBC)

Pork prices in China jumped 69.3% in September from a year ago as the country continued to battle a shortage of the meat that followed an outbreak of African swine fever. That increase in pork prices have been a major driver in the overall increase in China's consumer prices. (CNBC)

WeWork is reportedly expected to lay off at least 2,000 people, about 13% of its staff, as soon as this week. WeWork staff told the Guardian that they believe the cuts will not stop there, suggesting more of the company's 15,000 person workforce could be sacked. (CNBC)

* SmileDirectClub is now the worst unicorn IPO of 2019, down nearly 60% from its debut (CNBC)
* Uber shedding about 350 jobs to shore up business (WSJ)

NBA superstar LeBron James criticized the general manager of the Houston Rockets for not being "educated on the situation" when he tweeted in support of the Hong Kong anti-government protests. But that criticism sparked backlash against James, with Sen. Rick Scott slamming the LA Lakers star for "putting profits over human rights." (CNBC)

Walmart (WMT) is launching a new service that will deliver groceries, and put them away in your fridge, starting in three cities today. InHome grocery delivery is a membership program that is being rolled out at an introductory price of $19.95 a month and requires shoppers to purchase a $49.95 smart door lock kit or smart garage door kit. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

General Motors (GM) and the United Auto Workers union continue to negotiate, with a strike in its fifth week. The UAW called a Thursday meeting of union leaders from around the nation to update them on the status of talks.

Southwest Airlines pilots predicted the grounded Boeing 737 Max airplane will return to the skies around February, weeks later than Boeing (BA) and airlines have projected.

Deere (DE) is spending billions to ramp up its leasing program, according to the Wall Street Journal, in an effort to combat declining demand for farm tractors and construction equipment.

Bloomin' Brands (BLMN) was downgraded to "hold" from "buy" at Deutsche Bank, which is cutting its third-quarter comparable sales estimate for the Outback Steakhouse parent to a 0.6% increase from 1.1%. Deutsche Bank is also becoming more conservative on comparable sales estimates for next year as well.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) was upgraded to "overweight" from "sector weight" at KeyBanc, which points to a favorable near-term outlook for the housewares retailer as well as expected improvements in merchandising and operations under a new CEO.

Lowe's (LOW) was upgraded to "overweight" from "neutral" at Piper Jaffray, citing an expected improvement in fundamentals for the home improvement retailer even as Street expectations remain modest.

WATERCOOLER

The Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals (8-1) in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. Washington hosts Game 4 tonight and a four-game sweep over St. Louis will advance the team to the World Series. (CBS Sports)