Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to rise, Kudlow positive on trade and Taylor Swift fights for her songs


U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher open on Wall Street following positive comments on U.S.-China trade talks out of the White House. Top Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow, at the 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. (Reuters)

* Global debt surged to a record $250 trillion in first half of 2019, led by the US and China (CNBC)

Trade optimism sets up the possibility of record intraday highs at the open for the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq after a mixed Thursday, which nonetheless saw the S&P 500 set its 21st record close of 2019. Ahead of Friday trading, the Nasdaq was on track for its seventh consecutive weekly gain. The Dow and S&P 500 were pacing, respectively, for their fourth and third weekly gains in a row.(CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, at 8:30 a.m. ET, the government is out with both October retail sales and import prices. The New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing index for November is also released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The government issues September business inventories data at 10 a.m. ET. Struggling retailer J.C. Penney (JCP) reports quarterly earnings before-the-bell this morning. No major profit reports are expected this afternoon. (CNBC)

RH (RH) shares were getting a boost in the premarket after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) said, in a filing, it took a new stake in the Restoration Hardware parent. Berkshire revealed a new stake in Occidental Petroleum (OXY) worth around $332 million. The filing also showed Berkshire decreased its stake in Wells Fargo (WFC) by 7.7% to about 378 million shares. (CNBC)


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated progress toward a final agreement on President Donald Trump's North American trade deal replacement, which Trump hopes to ratify by the end of the year. House Democrats have been negotiating with the Trump administration as they seek better enforcement mechanisms for labor and environmental standards. (CNBC)

The House will hear from one witness today in the Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was targeted by the president's allies in a "smear" campaign now central to the inquiry. The career diplomat is expected to relay her striking story of being suddenly recalled by Trump. (AP)

* Pelosi says Trump's Ukraine actions amount to 'bribery' (AP)
* Trump rallies for Louisiana governor race, mocks diplomats in impeachment hearings (USA Today)

Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said he believes Trump will remain loyal to him but jokes that he has "very, very good insurance" should the president decide, as a reporter says, to "throw him under a bus." As the impeachment inquiry heats up, Republicans are weighing whether to blame Giuliani for Trump's irregular foreign policy in Ukraine. (CNBC)

* Trump asks Supreme Court to let him keep his tax returns secret (CNBC)

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled legislation that provides $180 billion over 10 years to cut carbon dioxide emissions from public housing across the country. The bill is the latest effort by the Democrats to bring Green New Deal policies into housing policy. (CNBC)

Joe Biden released his plan to pile $1.3 trillion into a U.S. infrastructure refresh as part of a push to boost the economy and curb climate change. In unveiling the proposal, the Biden campaign targeted Trump for a lack of progress on renewing American infrastructure. (CNBC)

North Korea called Biden a "rabid dog" that "must be beaten to death with a stick" in its latest swipe against foreign and political leaders it sees as hostile to the North's leadership. North Korea often insults foreign leaders and politicians over what it sees as slanderous remarks toward its leadership or hostile policies against its government. (AP)

The 50 attorneys general investigating Google are preparing to expand their antitrust probe beyond the company's advertising business to dive more deeply into its search and Android businesses. The development comes as politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, increasingly tee off on Silicon Valley. (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) said it has filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims indicating a plan to protest the Pentagon's decision to give Microsoft (MSFT) a controversial contract for cloud computing services. Amazon claims "unmistakable bias." The deal could be worth up to $10 billion. (CNBC)

Taylor Swift's public feud with music industry executives Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun continued when she claimed they were "exercising tyrannical control" and blocking her from performing her old music at the American Music Awards, where she will be honored with the Artist of the Decade Award. Swift also said Netflix had made a documentary about her life and Borchetta and Braun did not allow the use of her old songs for this project as well. (CNBC)


Nvidia (NVDA) reported better-than-expected adjusted quarterly earnings and revenue. However, Nvidia said its gaming chip business will be impacted by seasonal weakness during the current quarter.

Nike (NKE) announced an 11% increase in its quarterly dividend, raising it to 24.5 cents per share from the prior 22 cents. The athletic footwear and apparel maker has increased its dividend in 18 consecutive years.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB) reported a 23% decline in revenue for its latest quarter, and the Canada-based cannabis producer said it would slow expansion plans both in its home country and abroad.

Under Armour (UAA) executives were pushed to meet aggressive sales targets, The Wall Street Journal reports. The athletic apparel maker is under investigation for allegedly borrowing revenue from future quarters to mask slowing demand. (JD) reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue, helped by growth in sales for its core e-commerce unit.


The largest-ever Starbucks opens on Chicago's Michigan Avenue today. The Reserve Roastery's 35,000 square feet and five floors house three coffee bars, a cocktail bar and an artisan bakery and cafe. (CNBC)