Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to rise, China mum on trade and Viacom and CBS back together


U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher open and a second straight day of gains, after the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq broke three-day losing streaks Wednesday. The averages still have a bit of a hill to climb to erase the week's deficits; the Dow remains on track for its worst week since mid-August, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are currently on pace for their largest weekly losses since late September. (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the government is out with weekly initial jobless claims and the October trade deficit at 8:30 a.m. ET. October factory orders are out at 10 a.m. ET. Dollar General (DG), Kroger (KR) and Tiffany (TIF) are out with quarterly earnings this morning, while CrowdStrike (CRWD), DocuSign (DOCU), Ulta Beauty (ULTA) and Zoom Video (ZM) are out with quarterly numbers after the bell. (CNBC)

Global oil-producing group OPEC and its allies are meeting in Vienna today, with expectations raised over whether the alliance will make further cuts to its output at the two-day gathering. The 14 members of OPEC and a group of allied non-OPEC producers led by Russia are expected to keep production cuts at their current level of 1.2 million barrels per day. (CNBC)

Saudi Aramco is expected to price its shares for an initial public offering as early as today. Its price range put the oil giant's value at between $1.6 trillion to $1.7 trillion, set to beat the record $25 billion raised by China's e-commerce firm Alibaba when it debuted in New York in 2014. (CNBC)


China's official spokespeople are keeping quiet on trade talks with the U.S. amid growing uncertainty on when even a phase-one agreement can be reached. "China believes if both sides reach a phase-one agreement, relevant tariffs must be lowered," a Chinese spokesman said, disclosing few additional details about the negotiations. (CNBC)

Huawei seeks to overturn FCC ban on the use of government funds to purchase its equipment (CNBC)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to strip out sweeping legal protections for online content in the new trade pact with Mexico and Canada, with the Wall Street Journal calling it a "blow for big technology companies." Internet companies have lobbied to include the provisions in the USMCA deal. 

The Trump administration is discussing deploying 14,000 more troops, dozens more ships and military hardware to the Middle East to counter Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported. The decision, which could come by the end of the month, could double the number of U.S. military personnel sent to the region since May.

An active duty U.S. sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor opened fire on three civilian employees, killing two and then taking his own life just days before dignitaries and veterans descend on the base for the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack. The motive behind the shooting is still unknown. (AP)

Three leading legal scholars testified that President Donald Trump's attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats' case as Pelosi made sure they're prepared for that momentous next step. Democrats are charging toward a Christmastime vote on removing Trump. (AP)

* Trump lawyer Giuliani travels to Europe to meet ex-Ukraine prosecutors, report says (CNBC)
* Here are the takeaways from the House judiciary panel's impeachment hearing (CNBC)

Trump's years-long battle to keep his tax and financial records secret now rests with the Supreme Court. The president's personal lawyers plan to ask the justices today to hear his appeal of lower court rulings that eight years of financial documents must be provided to a House committee investigating illegal conduct and conflicts of interest. (USA Today)

Former Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden would use taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for $3.2 trillion in promised investment in infrastructure, higher education and health care. Biden's outline would implement a new minimum fee on companies that report a profit on their books but manage to pay far less than the official tax rate. (Reuters)

* Biden says he would consider Kamala Harris for vice presidential slot (Reuters)
* 2020 Dems are already fighting over Harris' biggest fundraisers (CNBC)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she still expects Larry Page to testify in Congress, a day after he stepped down as CEO of Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL). In a tweet, the Democratic presidential hopeful wrote: "Changing your title while staying on the board and retaining effective control of it will not exempt you from accountability." (Reuters)

* Warren is drafting legislation to reverse 'mega mergers' (Bloomberg)

A broad coalition of consumer groups is calling on the FTC to conduct a sweeping review of digital media companies that target children, according to a letter obtained by CNBC. The coalition includes powerful advocacy organizations such as the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Billionaire investor Steven Cohen is in talks to increase his investment in the New York Mets baseball franchise. Cohen will remain CEO of Point72 Asset Management, and his stake in the Mets will continue to be managed by Cohen Private Ventures. (CNBC)

ViacomCBS (VIAC) begins trading today after the merger of Viacom and CBS, bringing them back together, was officially completed Wednesday. The merger puts Paramount Pictures, the CBS broadcast network, and pay TV channels such as Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, and premium channel Showtime, under one roof. (USA Today)


Citi is upping its price target on Apple (AAPL) by 20% to $300 per share. In a note to clients, Citi wrote, "We believe consensus is underappreciating the Apple Watch and Apple AirPods demand strength and Apple's wearables segment likely to surpass $10 billion of quarterly sales this quarter."

Slack Technologies (WORK) lost 2 cents per share for its latest quarter, smaller than the 8 cent loss that Wall Street was anticipating. The workplace messaging platform company also saw revenue beat Street forecasts. Slack also raised its full-year outlook as it adds more large corporate users.

South Korea's LG Chem said it would invest $916 million in its U.S. subsidiary by 2023 to set up an electric vehicle battery joint venture with General Motors (GM). The facility is expected to be located in the Lordstown area of Ohio. (Reuters)

Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief engineer John Hamilton, who was leading the response to the 737 Max crisis, is retiring. Lynne Hopper, vice president of Engineering for Commercial Airplanes, will take over the chief engineer role. (CNBC)

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) is in a dispute with Italy's tax authority, which said the automaker had underestimated the value of its U.S. business following its acquisition of Chrysler. The company said it strongly disagrees with the assessment, which could result in a $1.5 billion bill for back taxes.

Costco (COST) reported a November comparable store sales increase of 5.3%, while Wayfair (W) reported a 36% increase in direct retail sales during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend shopping period.


As we move along to a new decade, the Pantone Color Institute has reached back in time to calming, confident Classic Blue as its color of the year for 2020. The institute's vice president called the color a "reassuring presence" in uneasy times. (AP)

Rise of the Resistance opens in Orlando, Florida today. It opens in Anaheim, California in Jan. 17. The ride is Disney's (DIS) most ambitious Imagineering project yet, the company said. Media were given a sneak peak of the attraction ahead of its opening. (CNBC)