Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow indicated at record, Trump war powers vote and Tesla new high

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BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to more gains on Wall Street after Wednesday's turnaround that saw the S&P 500 and Nasdaq log new intraday highs. The Nasdaq also closed at a new high, and indications this morning point to the Dow joining the record run on an easing of fears about a possible escalation of U.S.-Iran hostilities. The projected gains for the Dow would be enough for it to set a new intraday high at the open. It needs a little less than 128 points. (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the Labor Department is out with its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. Additionally, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, New York Fed President John Williams, Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard all have public appearances today. (CNBC)

Lighting company Acuity Brands (AYI) is among the few companies issuing quarterly earnings this morning, while home builder KB Home (KBH) and lubricant producer WD-40 (WDFC) issue numbers after the closing bell.

For the first time, Tesla's (TSLA) stock market value has eclipsed the combined values of General Motors (GM) and Ford (F). The electric car maker's stock jumped nearly 5% on Wednesday, closing at a record $492.14 per share and elevating its market capitalization to almost $89 billion, or $2 billion larger than the sum of GM's and Ford's respective market caps of $50 billion and $37 billion. (Reuters)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

The House will vote today on a resolution to curb President Donald Trump's power to take military action against Iran. Nancy Pelosi said some members of Congress have "serious, urgent concerns" about Trump's strategy, which the administration did not assuage with a briefing or its "insufficient" notification of the strike to Congress under the War Powers Act. (CNBC)

* Trump pulls back from more military action in Iran crisis, promises new sanctions (Reuters)
* GOP Sen. Mike Lee: Iran briefing from Trump administration was 'insulting and demeaning' (USA Today)

Two rockets reportedly hit the Green Zone in Iraq's capital of Baghdad, a day after Iran launched missiles at bases housing U.S. and other coalition forces in Iraq. The rockets were fired several hours after Trump declared that Iran appeared to be standing down from military conflict with the U.S. (CNBC)

A Ukrainian International Airlines plane that crashed shortly after leaving Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, was reportedly on fire before impact, according to Iran's civil aviation authority. The plane's trajectory indicated it strayed from its route and was on its way back to a nearby airport at the time of the crash. (CNBC)

* Here are the unanswered questions about the deadly plane crash in Iran (CNBC)

China's Vice Premier Liu He, head of the country's negotiation team in China-U.S. trade talks, will sign a "Phase One" deal in Washington next week. No version of the text has been made public, and Chinese officials have yet to publicly commit to key points such as increasing imports of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over two years. (Reuters)

A federal appeals court allowed the Trump administration to move forward with plans to use billions of dollars in military construction money to build a long-promised wall along the border with Mexico. (WSJ)

Following a secretive escape last week from Japan to Lebanon, former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn publicly defended himself Wednesday against accusations of financial misconduct and misuse of corporate resources. Ghosn adamantly denied all charges against him and defended his decision to become an international fugitive by fleeing Japan as a necessity to receive a fair trial and "escape injustice." (CNBC)

* Lebanese investigators finish questioning Ghosn, file referred to prosecutor: judicial source (Reuters)
* Ghosn regrets not accepting US offer to lead GM for double his salary (CNBC)
* Fugitive former Nissan exec feared he would 'die in Japan' if he didn't escape (CNBC)

China's popular video sharing app TikTok had "multiple" security vulnerabilities, said cybersecurity firm Check Point. It found flaws that could allow hackers to take control of TikTok accounts and manipulate the content, upload and delete videos and reveal personal information such as a private email address. (CNBC)

Twitter (TWTR) said it will test new features early this year that would allow users to control who can reply to their tweets, as it looks to limit abuse and harassment on the platform. Social media firms are under pressure to address harassment on their services. (Reuters)

* Facebook's final word on political ads: No changes to microtargeting but more control for users (NBC News)

Verizon Communications (VZ) is eliminating traditional cable bundles and the handcuffs that often came with them, making it easier for households to switch video packages in the hopes they won't cut the cord entirely. (WSJ)

Accolade, a start-up that helps workers navigate their health benefits and dealings with insurance companies, has hired banks including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to advise ahead of a possible initial public offering, CNBC reported. The company is expected to file later this year.

Australian authorities urged another mass evacuation across the heavily populated southeast today as a return of hot weather fanned huge bushfires threatening several towns and communities. Thousands have been made homeless and thousands have had to evacuate repeatedly because of the volatility of the fires. (Reuters)

Many Puerto Ricans slept outside and woke up to an island still largely without power after a string of earthquakes rocked their home in recent days. The worst quake, a magnitude 6.4 that struck early Tuesday, killed at least one person, injured at least nine. (USA Today)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) reported worse-than-expected quarterly losses and revenue. The company has withdrawn its full-year forecast. The stock was pulling back about 8% in premarket trading.

Occidental Petroleum (OXY) said it would begin a new round of job cuts, following its $38 billion buyout of Anadarko Petroleum. The energy producer did not give a specific number of jobs to be cut, but has been selling assets and reducing expenses since completing the deal.

HP Inc. (HPQ) has once again rejected a takeover bid by Xerox (XRX), saying the proposal undervalues the computer and printer maker, and that the fact that Xerox has secured financing for the $33 billion offer is not a basis for a takeover discussion.

Uber (UBER) has discontinued upfront ride pricing in California, in response to a new law which requires the ride-hailing service to classify more of its drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.

Walmart (WMT) said it opened 134 new stores in Mexico last year, the biggest expansion by the retailer in that country since 2013.

Voya Financial (VOYA) is exploring a possible sale, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke to the Financial Times. The paper said the U.S.-based retirement plan provider could be valued at $10 billion or more.

Costco (COST) reported a December comparable sales increase of 9%, exceeding the consensus StreetAccount estimate of 7.1%.

WATERCOOLER

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced they "intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent." The couple, whose son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born last May, said they plan to balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America. (CNBC)