Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to rise, online shopping hits high, Boeing on watch

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BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a modestly higher open on Thursday, following mixed results in Tuesday's abbreviated session. Tuesday nonetheless saw the Nasdaq post its tenth straight day of gains and its ninth consecutive record close. With four trading days left in 2019, the S&P 500 would need a 1% gain to chalk up its best yearly gain since 1997. Those potential gains at the open could push both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to record intraday highs. (CNBC)

* The Santa rally in stocks could lead to January selling (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the government is out with its weekly look at initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. Meanwhile, no earnings reports are due. (CNBC)

China's imports of soybeans surged in November following the announcement of an interim trade deal with the U.S. China initially cut off purchases of American soybeans, the country's biggest import from the U.S., after President Donald Trump raised import duties on Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing's technology ambitions and trade surplus. (AP)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. shoppers spent more online during this year's holiday shopping season, a report by Mastercard showed, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high. E-commerce sales this year made up 14.6% of total retail and rose 18.8% from the 2018 period, according to Mastercard's data tracking retail sales from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve. (Reuters)

* Delivery dilemma: Americans are ordering more, but the US can only handle so much (NBC News)

Boeing (BA) remains on watch, after new documents were said to contain "very disturbing" revelations regarding the grounded 737 Max jet. The documents dealt with safety and efforts to avoid production delays, according to a congressional aide quoted by Reuters. Boeing issued a statement saying it had proactively brought the documents to the FAA and Congress, and said the tone and content do not reflect "the company we are and need to be."

Former Uber (UBER) CEO Travis Kalanick will step down from the board, effective Dec. 31 and has sold all of his stock in the ride-hailing company he co-founded 10 years ago. It's unclear how much Kalanick's total stake is worth, but the latest public filings show it's about $2.5 billion. (CNBC)

Billionaire U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said his campaign ended its relationship with a company that used prison labor for making phone calls. Bloomberg said the campaign learned of the ties to prison labor when a reporter called. The Intercept, a news website, was first to report the use of prison labor. (Reuters)

China, Iran and Russia will hold joint naval drills starting tomorrow in the Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman, China's defense ministry said today, amid heightened tension in the region between Iran and the U.S. The drill was a "normal military exchange" between the three armed forces and was in line with international law and practices, the spokesman said. (Reuters)

A typhoon that struck the central Philippines over Christmas has killed at least 13 people, disaster agency officials said today. Typhoon Phanfone hit the Philippines late on Tuesday with winds of up to 75 mph, heavy rain and flooding. (Reuters)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Amazon (AMZN) said the holiday shopping season broke all prior records, with "billions" of items ordered worldwide and "tens of millions" Amazon devices purchased.

PayPal (PYPL) will continue to pursue potential takeover targets in 2020, according to CFO John Rainey. He told the Wall Street Journal there are many acquisition opportunities in the payments sector, with PayPal targeting transactions in the $1 billion to $3 billion range.

Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and other oil stocks could get a boost as oil prices touch their highest in more than three months, boosted by a report showing lower U.S. crude inventories.

WATERCOOLER

TV reporter Natalia Escudero screamed into the cameras, saying, "I'm not coming to work tomorrow!" as her name was announced as a winner of the Spanish lottery, the biggest lottery in the world in terms of total prize money offered. But the reporter's celebration was reportedly cut short when it turned out she had actually been awarded just $5,539 out of the lottery's total prize pot of about $2.4 billion. (CNBC)