Morning Brief

What to watch today: Earnings kick off, Fink warns on climate change and Democrats debate


U.S. stock futures were pointing to a steady Wall Street open, following record closes for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have risen in three of the past four days. And with Monday's gains, the Dow and S&P 500 continued their streak of no back-to-back losses since Dec. 9-10.

Much of the focus is on this week's slew of bank earnings, including J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup (C) before the bell today. Delta Air Lines (DAL) is also out this morning.

* JP Morgan beats analysts' estimate for fourth-quarter profit on record Wall Street revenue (CNBC)
Delta's Q4 profit beats estimates thanks to cheaper fuel and strong travel demand (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the government is out with the December Consumer Price Index at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Larry Fink, chief of the world's largest money manager, believes the intensifying climate crisis will bring about a fundamental reshaping of finance. A significant reallocation of capital is set to take place "more quickly than we see changes to the climate itself," the BlackRock CEO said in an annual letter to CEOs. (CNBC)

* Fink: Risks from climate change are bigger than the 2008 financial crisis with no Fed to save us (CNBC)


Tonight marks the last time the leading Democratic presidential contenders will face a national audience on the debate stage before primary voting begins, making it the most significant moment of the 2020 primary season to date. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren will all take the stage. (AP)

* Democrat Cory Booker drops out of 2020 presidential race (CNBC)
* Bernie Sanders doesn't have any apps on his phone (CNBC)
* New polls show Biden on top in Iowa, New Hampshire (Reuters)

The U.S. removed China from a list of countries considered currency manipulators just days before top trade negotiators for D.C. and Beijing sign a key "phase one" trade deal. China is now on a "monitoring list" for currency practices, along with other countries such as Germany and Japan. (CNBC)

* Here's what's in the phase one China trade deal Trump is signing this week (CNBC)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a letter today to President Donald Trump, expressed concern that a weak trade deal that fails to address "structural inequities" in the U.S.-China relationship could harm American workers and businesses for years to come. Schumer had previously accused Washington of caving to Beijing with the phase one deal. (CNBC)

Republican Senators said they opposed any attempts to dismiss impeachment charges against Trump without a trial. Nancy Pelosi delayed sending the two articles of impeachment passed by the House to the Republican-led Senate, preventing McConnell from holding a quick trial right away that cleared the president. (Reuters)

Trump is reportedly planning to move an additional $7.2 billion of Pentagon funding to build a border wall. The administration had already diverted money from Pentagon funds for counter-drug efforts and military construction in 2019, but the 2020 figures are higher. (CNBC)

Iran's judiciary said today that arrests have been made for the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane that killed all 176 people on board just after takeoff from Tehran last week. The announcement came amid an upswell of anger and protests by Iranians in recent days over the downing of the jetliner. (AP)

* European powers put Iran Nuclear Deal on notice (WSJ)

Payments giant Visa is buying Silicon Valley start-up Plaid in a deal worth $5.3 billion. Plaid (referred to as the "plumbing" behind fintech companies) has high-profile customers that include popular peer-to-peer payment app Venmo, mobile investing app Robinhood and cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Gemini. (CNBC)

The Houston Astros fired two team executives after MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred levied a $5 million fine and other punishments to the club for violating league rules in a cheating scheme used during the 2017 playoffs and 2018 season. The league is investigating whether the Red Sox used a similar scheme while Cora was that team's manager in 2018. (CNBC)


GameStop (GME) said holiday season sales fell more than 25% and also forecast a larger than expected drop in same-store sales for fiscal 2019.

McKesson (MCK) raised its fiscal 2020 full-year outlook to $14.60-$14.80 per share from the prior $14-$14.60. The drug distributor cited continued positive momentum in its business, and will give further details on its outlook today.

Amazon (AMZN) will ask a judge to block Microsoft (MSFT) from working on a $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract. Amazon is disputing the awarding of the contract, accusing Trump of exerting improper pressure on the Defense Department to favor Microsoft.

Boeing (BA) is offering very large discounts in order to keep orders for its currently grounded 737 Max jet, according to Britain's Telegraph newspaper. The paper said the discounts amount to more than 50%.

Zumiez (ZUMZ) reported holiday season comparable sales of 6.8%, with the specialty apparel retailer also raising its fourth-quarter guidance.

Apple (AAPL) was downgraded to "underweight" from "neutral" at Atlantic Equities, which said Apple's Services and Wearables businesses aren't likely to provide material upside.

Sysco (SYY) was downgraded to "neutral" from "overweight" at Piper Sandler, following the announcement that the food distributor's CEO Tom Bene would step down on Jan. 31 after two years in that role.


LSU and its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Joe Burrow, comfortably beat defending champions Clemson, 42-25, last night to win the College Football Playoff national championship and cap off one of the more remarkable transformations in the sport's recent history. (NBC News)