U.S. stock futures were pointing to gains strong enough for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq to set new highs at Friday's open on Wall Street. The S&P 500 was the only one of the three that closed at a record on Thursday. Fueling the premarket strength, top Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow, at a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington, cited what he called "very constructive talks" with Beijing about ending the 16-month trade war. "We're getting close," he said Thursday evening. Ahead of Friday's trading, the Nasdaq was on track for its seventh consecutive weekly gain. The Dow and S&P 500 were pacing their fourth and third weekly gains in a row, respectively.
In the latest read on the health of American consumers, retail sales showed Friday morning a rebound last month — rising a stronger-than-expected 0.3% — after September's surprising pullback. The government's October retail sales report is one of the most important data points of the next couple of weeks, as CNBC's Patti Domm reports. The retail numbers and November's jobs data, due out Dec. 6, will be the last two big economic releases the Federal Reserve will review before monetary policymakers meet Dec. 10-11. The Fed has cut interest rates three times this year. Market expectations for another cut next month are practically nil, as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell this week pretty much said rates would likely be on hold for a while.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is indicating progress toward a final agreement on President Donald Trump's North American trade deal replacement, even as House Democrats are pushing ahead with another public impeachment hearing Friday. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Pelosi said talks with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are "moving positively" toward a deal on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. The White House aims to pass the USMCA, its replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, by the end of the year as the 2020 election looms.
Amazon is claiming "unmistakable bias" in the Pentagon's awarding of a contract to Microsoft that could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos has been a Trump foil, filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, indicating plans to protest the decision. Bezos owns The Washington Post, which the president bashes as being liberal. The contract amounts to a major win for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has made cloud services a higher priority. For Amazon it would be smaller — the company's Amazon Web Services division had $9 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter.
RH stock was getting about an 8% boost in the premarket after Berkshire Hathaway said in a filing that it has taken a new 1.2 million share stake in the Restoration Hardware parent. Warren Buffett's Berkshire also revealed a new stake in Occidental Petroleum worth around $332 million. Berkshire, in April, backed Occidental's now-completed purchase of Anadarko Petroleum with $10 billion. The filing also showed Berkshire decreased its stake in Wells Fargo by 7.7% to about 378 million shares. Wells Fargo, after struggling to find a new leader, named a new CEO in September.