Morning Brief

What to watch today: Trade deal signing, Target's holiday sales disappoint and Democrats debate

BY THE NUMBERS

Trading has turned cautious ahead of the high-profile signing of the U.S.-China phase-one trade deal, with U.S. stock futures mixed following an up-and-down session Tuesday. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all hit intraday record highs in mid-session Tuesday, but none posted a record close and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq actually finished lower. That said, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are on pace to post their best January since 2013. (CNBC)

Washington and Beijing are expected to make progress in their 18-month trade war today by signing the initial trade deal. But analysts have said there could be some volatility around the release of the details. Stocks were rattled, when Bloomberg Tuesday afternoon reported that tariffs were not expected to be lifted until a phase-two deal. (CNBC)

* Trump administration moves toward blocking more sales to Huawei, sources say (Reuters)

A slew of high-profile earnings continue today, led by Bank of America (BAC), BlackRock (BLK) and Goldman Sachs (GS). PNC Financial (PNC), UnitedHealth (UNH) and US Bancorp (USB) also report before the bell. Alcoa (AA) reports financials after the bell. (CNBC)

Target (TGT) said today that its holiday sales missed expectations. Shares were sinking about 8% in premarket trading. The retailer said that, despite missing the mark, it is maintaining a prior outlook for fourth-quarter earnings. It also said in a press release that the fourth quarter of 2019 remains on track to mark Target's eleventh consecutive quarter of same-store sales gains. (CNBC)

The government is out with December producer prices and the New York Fed issues its Empire State manufacturing index for January; both at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Fed releases its Beige Book, the region-by-region assessment of the U.S. economy, at 2 p.m. ET. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Six Democratic presidential contenders took the stage for the final time before nominating contests start, and tensions cracked through a field that has resisted attacks for much of the primary race. Missed what Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer had to say last night? We've got you covered.

* Here are the top moments from the seventh Democratic debate (CNBC)
* Things get tense between Warren and Sanders at Democratic debate (CNBC)
* Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren square off over Trump's USMCA trade deal (CNBC)

The House of Representatives will vote today to send two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. Today's House resolution is expected to have three functions: To transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, name the House members who will serve as managers of the impeachment trial, and fund the trial itself. (CNBC)

* Democrats add last-minute evidence to Trump impeachment case before Senate trial (Reuters)
* Former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn files to withdraw guilty plea in Mueller case (CNBC)
* IRS agents arrest indicted lawyer Michael Avenatti for bail violation in California, latest woe for Trump foe (CNBC)

In an angry speech on state television, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at the U.S. and Europe for its presence in the Middle East and for what he described as the latter's failures in upholding the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. U.S. troops are "insecure" in the region today, and EU troops "might be in danger tomorrow," Rouhani said. (CNBC)

New video shows two iranian missiles hit Ukrainian plane, killing all aboard (NY Times)

Trump slammed Apple (AAPL) over whether it should unlock password-protected iPhones used by the shooting suspect at a Navy base in Pensacola, Florida in December. Apple earlier said it had provided gigabytes of information to law enforcement for the case but would not build a "backdoor" or specialized software to give elevated access. (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) is telling sellers they can begin using FedEx's (FDX) ground delivery after the company temporarily halted access to the service during the holiday shopping season. Amazon earlier blamed the suspension on FedEx's poor delivery performance, noting it would resume access once the service improved. (CNBC)

Federal authorities will investigate why an airliner with engine trouble dumped jet fuel over a densely populated area in California while making an emergency return to the airport, dousing dozens of schoolchildren in a smelly vapor. Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai, with 181 passengers and crew on board, turned back to LA minutes after taking off. (AP)

The Boston Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora on Tuesday, a day after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred implicated him in the sport's sign-stealing scandal. Cora was the bench coach for the Houston Astros when they won the 2017 World Series and led Boston to the title the following year in his first season as manager. (AP)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Beyond Meat (BYND) struck a pea protein supply deal with ingredients supplier Roquette Freres, expanding an existing partnership and helping the plant-based burger maker avoid shortages.

Microsoft (MSFT) released a patch for a Windows 10 security flaw discovered by the National Security Agency. Both Microsoft and the NSA said there is no evidence the flaw had actually been used for any malicious purposes.

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) withdrew its application for its opioid painkiller designed to treat chronic low back pain. The move comes after an FDA panel unanimously voted against recommending the drug's approval.

ViacomCBS (VIACA) has reportedly hired George Cheeks, the vice chairman of Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal Content Studios, to fill a senior executive role. That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which said Cheeks could ultimately succeed Joe Ianniello as head of the company's CBS network. Comcast is the parent company of CNBC.

PG&E (PCG) is near a deal with investment firm Pimco and Elliott on a restructuring plan, according to a Bloomberg report. The agreement is said to give creditors of the utility a mix of equity and new debt if they abandon their rival restructuring plan.

WATERCOOLER

Ken Jennings won his third match in the "Jeopardy!" "Greatest of all Time" contest, an event that's been a prime-time hit for ABC. He pocketed $1 million by dispatching James Holzhauer, who won one match, and Brad Rutter, who came up empty. (AP)