Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow set to kick off 2020 with rise, Sanders' massive haul and UPS's record day

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BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures are pointing to a strong rally at the Thursday open, putting the major averages in position to challenge their respective record highs. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended 2019 with their largest annual percentage gains since 2013, with all 11 S&P sectors posting gains for the year. (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the Labor Department issues its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the first government economic report of the new year. The holiday-delayed reports from the Energy Department on oil and gasoline inventories, as well as natural gas inventories, will not be out until tomorrow. The Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly report on mortgage applications will be delayed until Jan. 8. (CNBC)

Meanwhile, no corporate earnings reports of note are out today, as companies kick off Q1.

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign shrugged off a health scare and took in more than $34.5 million in the fourth quarter, a massive haul in the final stretch before primaries start. The independent senator from Vermont and 2020 Democratic hopeful raised more than $18 million in December, his best month of the election cycle. (CNBC)

Pete Buttigieg raised $24.7 million in the final quarter of 2019 from 326,000 contributors. Buttigieg and former VP Joe Biden are among the 2020 Democratic contenders who have received the support of top financiers across the country. (CNBC)

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he'd be willing to testify at his client's Senate trial, but he would "love" to represent Trump in the proceedings. "I would testify. I would do demonstrations. I'd give lectures. I'd give summations, or I'd do what I do best: I'd try the case. I'd love to try the case," Giuliani told reporters. (NBC News)

* Trump says he's happy to have a trial in the Senate, but he does not really care (Reuters)

The Trump administration will ban flavored e-cigarette pods, with the exception of menthol and tobacco flavors, and flavored liquid nicotine products commonly sold in vape shops, a senior White House official told CNBC. Trump first suggested a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes in September.

Illinois rung in the new year by joining 10 states and DC in allowing the legal sale and purchase of marijuana. Under the new state law, adults over the age of 21 may own 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of THC in pot products and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. (CNBC)

United Parcel Service is anticipating a record number of shipped returns with 1.9 million returned packages. Today is "National Returns Day," when UPS expects peak gift returns that could be up 26% from last year. (USA Today)

Japanese prosecutors today raided the Tokyo home of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn after he skipped bail and fled to Lebanon before his trial on financial misconduct charges. Details continue to come out on how Ghosn avoided the tight surveillance he was under in Japan and showed up in Lebanon, and Ghosn said he'll talk to reporters next week. (AP)

* Trial delay helped to push Ghosn to flee Japan: sources (Reuters)
* Turkey detains 7 in probe into Ghosn fleeing bail in Japan (AP)

Hong Kong police arrested about 400 people in New Year's Day protests after what started as a peaceful pro-democracy march of tens of thousands spiraled into chaotic scenes with police firing tear gas to disperse the crowds. The arrests take the total to about 7,000 since protests in the city escalated in June over a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China. (Reuters)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he will continue developing his country's nuclear deterrent and introduce a new strategic weapon in the near future. Kim's remarks came after the U.S. missed a year-end deadline for a restart of denuclearization talks. (CNBC)

David Stern, the lawyer who became the head of the National Basketball Association and was the longest-serving commissioner of any major U.S. sport, died on New Year's Day. He was 77. Stern died three weeks after being hospitalized for a sudden brain hemorrhage. (CNBC)

Don Larsen, the journeyman pitcher who reached the heights of baseball glory in 1956 for the New York Yankees when he threw a perfect game and the only no-hitter in World Series history, died of esophageal cancer Wednesday night. He was 90. (AP)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Boeing (BA) lost out to Europe's Airbus as the world's largest jet maker in 2019 for the first time since 2011. Airbus delivered 863 aircraft last year, more than industry watchers had expected.

A study found that an artificial intelligence system from Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit was as good as radiologists at detecting breast cancer, and also showed promise in reducing detection errors.

HSBC (HSBC) bank branches in Hong Kong were attacked and vandalized by protesters amid ongoing political turmoil. Hong Kong accounts for about half of the bank's profits.

Tesla (TSLA) plans to deliver its second batch of China-made Model 3 sedans from its new Shanghai factory on Jan. 7, said a Tesla representative quoted by Reuters.

Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett declined Tiffany's (TIF) invitation to counter LVMH's takeover offer, the Financial Times reported.

Fastly (FSLY) was upgraded to "overweight" from "neutral" at Piper Jaffray, which cites valuation. Fastly, which specializes in online content delivery services, went public last May at $16 per share and closed Tuesday at $20.07.

PG&E (PCG) won a court ruling in a case versus the utility's bondholders. A California bankruptcy court ruled the utility only needs to pay 2.59% interest while under bankruptcy protection. Bondholders had argued they were owed accrued interest at the original contract rate of as much as 6.05%.

WATERCOOLER

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek and his wife Jean will open up about the star's cancer diagnosis in a one-hour TV special that's scheduled to air on ABC today at 8 p.m. ET. Trebek has been receiving floods of support since sharing his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. (USA Today)