Morning Brief

What to watch: Final trading day of decade, ousted Nissan chairman flees Japan and new laws set

BY THE NUMBERS

The recent stock rally came to an abrupt halt Monday, with the major averages posting their largest declines in four weeks, but U.S. stock futures are pointing to a higher open for 2019's final trading day. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are set to post their largest yearly percentage gains since 2013, with all the major averages still near record highs despite Monday's slide. All 11 S&P sectors are higher for 2019, led by technology. Energy is the weakest S&P sector for the year but the strongest for December. (CNBC)

Oil surges 35% in 2019 and hedge funds are betting on more gains next year (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the S&P/Case-Shiller report on October home prices is out at 9 a.m. ET, while the Conference Board issues its December Consumer Confidence Index at 10 a.m. ET. No earnings reports are on today's calendar. We'll be off tomorrow, along with the markets. We at the "Morning Squawk" wish you a safe and happy New Year.

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was awaiting trial on criminal charges in Japan, confirmed reports today that he's left the country and is in Lebanon. It was not clear how Ghosn was able to leave Japan, where he has been under court-imposed restrictions on his movements. (CNBC)

China's top trade negotiator Vice Premier Liu He will reportedly visit Washington this week to sign the so-called phase one trade deal with the U.S. Beijing has reportedly accepted the U.S. invitation for a deal signing in Washington, and the Chinese delegation will stay in the U.S. for a few days until the middle of next week. (CNBC)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is set to make a closely watched New Year address on Wednesday which is likely to offer a glimpse of a "new path" he has vowed to take if the U.S. fails to meet his deadline to soften its stance over denuclearization. Washington was on track to ignore the year-end deadline. (Reuters)

Microsoft says North Korea-based hackers were stealing sensitive information (CNBC)

Andrew Yang's presidential campaign said it expects to raise more than $12.5 million in the fourth quarter, a sum that would help the entrepreneur remain competitive with the front-runners in the Democratic primary. The recent flood of campaign cash comes as one of the leading candidates, Elizabeth Warren, sounded the alarm about a slowdown in donations. (CNBC)

* Bernie Sanders' doctors say he is fit to serve as president after a heart attack (CNBC)
* Joe Biden says he would consider a Republican running mate (Reuters)
* Bring on 2020: Some Democrats end the year with campaign events (AP)

Uber, delivery start-up Postmates, and two contractors who work for the companies filed suit against the state of California, alleging that the recently passed Assembly Bill 5 is unconstitutional. The law, which is set to go into effect tomorrow, would require gig-economy workers to be reclassified as employees instead of contractors. (CNBC)

* Tesla Shanghai reportedly making 1,000 cars per week (CNBC)
* Huawei sales up 18% but US pressure means tough times ahead (AP)

Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad today after smashing the main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire. The embassy attack followed deadly U.S. airstrikes this week that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq. (AP)

Large crowds thronged Sydney harbor today to watch Australia's famous New Year's Eve fireworks, even as smoke from deadly wildfires turned skies in nearby coastal towns blood-red. The planned spectacle is going ahead despite calls from some members of the public for the fireworks to be canceled, in solidarity with fire-hit areas in the nation. (Reuters)

A private Washington-based museum dedicated to exploring the role of the free press in major events in history will close its doors for good today. The Newseum opened in 2008 and delved into the importance of the First Amendment and a free press. (USA Today)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Tencent Music (TME) is part of a consortium buying a 10% stake in Universal Music Group from French media conglomerate Vivendi. Universal Music counts Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga among its artists. The deal values Universal Music at about $34 billion.

Boeing (BA) and Turkish Airlines reached a compensation deal for losses caused by the grounding of Boeing's 737 Max jet. The airline did not specify how much it received, but reports in a Turkish newspaper put the amount at $225 million.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is seeking 100% ownership of its futures joint venture in China, according to a Bloomberg report.

Core Laboratories (CLB) cut its fourth-quarter earnings guidance, and also said it would reduce its quarterly dividend. The provider of services for the crude oil industry cited challenges in the land-based U.S. oil market, among other factors.

Occidental Petroleum (OXY) sold a variety of assets including the former Anadarko Petroleum headquarters and a former ConocoPhillips campus to Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) for $565 million.

WATERCOOLER

With the close of the NFL's regular season comes "Black Monday," the annual purge of coaches and executives whose teams didn't make the playoffs. The Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Carolina Panthers have all fired their head coaches as of Monday afternoon. (CNBC)