Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to fall, Target soars on earnings and Trump-Cook to tour Apple plant

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a lower open on Wednesday after the Dow broke a three-day winning streak and the S&P 500 broke a five-day winning streak. However, the Nasdaq bucked Tuesday's downdraft, logging its third positive session in a row. Investors get the minutes from the latest Fed meeting at 2 p.m. ET, while looking to retail earnings for a read on the American consumer. (CNBC)

Shares of Target (TGT) were surging in the premarket, indicating an all-time high at the open, after the big-box retailer reported Wednesday morning third-quarter earnings and sales that trounced analyst estimates. Target also raised its profit outlook for the full year, ahead of the holiday shopping season. Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works' parent L Brands (LB) reports earnings after-the-bell. (CNBC)

Lowe's (LOW) shares were jumping in premarket trading after the home improvement retailer announced before-the-bell profit that beat expectations in the third-quarter despite a revenue shortfall. Lowe's raised its fiscal 2019 earnings forecast. On Tuesday, larger rival Home Depot (HD) reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales and warned on full-year sales. (CNBC)

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is placing a $400 million bet against struggling malls, taking on two of the largest investment firms, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Icahn stands to make millions if mall owners are unable to pay off their debts. Traders in market told the Journal that Icahn "likely is the largest short seller of mall debt."

IN THE NEWS TODAY

China's foreign ministry today criticized the U.S., after the Senate unanimously passed a bill supporting Hong Kong protesters. The bill now proceeds to the House, which already approved its own version of the bill in October. The votes come as Beijing and Washington are trying to cement their tentative "phase one" trade deal. (CNBC)

President Donald Trump is threatening higher tariffs on Chinese goods if that Beijing does not make a deal on trade. Financial markets, which have proven reactive to developments in the ongoing trade war, largely shrugged off Trump's latest warning on Tuesday. (CNBC)

A top Trump administration diplomat, who's also a leading Trump donor, could become a key witness for House Democrats today, when he testifies publicly as part of the Trump impeachment. U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is set to appear for a public hearing at 9 a.m. ET.

* White House Twitter account attacks Army officer Vindman as he testifies (CNBC)
* Trump ignored talking points about 'corruption' in Zelenskiy call, says Vindman (CNBC)

Ten of the 18 candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination take the stage in Atlanta today, in the party's fifth primary debate. The ongoing fight over how best to expand health insurance for Americans is likely to be a main point of contention and could see Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the defensive. (Reuters)

* Warren, Sanders, other Democrats call for NBC sexual abuse probe ahead of debate on MSNBC (CNBC)
* Here are the unemployment rates in the states that will decide Trump's 2020 fate (CNBC)

Trump is in Austin, Texas, today to tour Apple's manufacturing plant. Apple (AAPL) shifted its Mac Pro assembly to the Texas facility in September after a round of tariff exemptions for computer parts that the company won from trade regulators. Apple has trumpeted its overall investment in the U.S. since Trump took office in 2017. (CNBC)

Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates Airline finalized a deal to purchase 30 of Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner jets. The deal sets up for a reduction to a prior commitment of 777x jets from the U.S. plane-maker, down by 30 to 126, which Emirates is opting for by employing its substitution rights. (CNBC)

* FAA chief says the agency will be tougher on the certification of the Boeing 777x (Reuters)

The FBI is investigating whether a "criminal enterprise" played a role in the controversial jailhouse death of well-connected sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. Sawyer's testimony came on the same day that two guards from a Manhattan jail were criminally charged with falsifying official records. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Alibaba (BABA) has set a likely price for shares for institutional investors in its upcoming Hong Kong listing. The e-commerce giant's shares will likely be priced at $22.48. One U.S.-listed American Depository Share is equal to eight ordinary shares, making the the listing the world's biggest so far in 2019.

In newly released answers to a House panel investigating four Big Tech firms, Amazon (AMZN) maintained it does not use data from individual third-party sellers to come up with its own products. But it does use "aggregated data" to inform its private label brands, the company said.

A federal appeals court said General Motors (GM) is not liable for punitive damages over accidents that occurred after its 2009 bankruptcy and involved vehicles it produced earlier, including vehicles with faulty ignition switches.

WATERCOOLER

Aston Martin is entering the SUV segment for the first time in the company's 106-year history with the $189,900 DBX. The famed luxury British car brand touted the unveiling of the vehicle Tuesday as a "bold new chapter and landmark moment" for the automaker. (CNBC)