Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to drop, China coronavirus worsens and Mnuchin rips Greta Thunberg



U.S. stock futures are pointing to a slightly lower open ahead of the Thursday session, after a mixed session Wednesday. The Dow has a two-day losing streak, its first back-to-back losses since Dec. 9–10, although the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have risen in four of the past five days. (CNBC)

World leaders continue to meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, at a press event there, sharply criticized the financial credentials of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg today, saying the 17-year-old should study economics at college before lecturing the U.S. on fossil fuel investments. (CNBC)

* Al Gore compares climate crisis to historic events like 9/11 (CNBC)
* Finance industry chief warns of 'white elephants' amid record global debt (CNBC)

The United States could still apply tariffs on European carmakers, despite their aim to put together a new trade deal, the Commerce Secretary told reporters in Davos today. Trump has said that Europe is "possibly just as bad as China" when it comes to trade and called it a "brutal" trading partner. (CNBC)

On Thursday's earnings and economic calendars, CNBC parent Comcast (CMCSA), Dow stock Procter & Gamble (PG), Union Pacific (UNP) and American Airlines (AAL) are out with quarterly results. Intel (INTC) reports after the bell. The government issues weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Conference Board delivers its December index of leading economic indicators at 10 a.m. ET. (CNBC)


World health officials hesitated to designate an outbreak of a flu-like coronavirus, which has now killed at least 17 people, a global health emergency, trying to contain the fast-spreading illness without unnecessarily spooking global trade. The WHO is set to reconvene today after international health experts were split on deciding on an international classification. (CNBC)

* China locks down two cities at epicenter of virus outbreak (Reuters)
* Biotech working on a vaccine for China's deadly coronavirus (CNBC)

House Democrats are set to continue the three-day process of laying out their case to the Senate that impeached President Donald Trump should be convicted and removed from office. Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff kicked off the trial proceedings yesterday with an overview of Trump's alleged abuses of power obstruction. (CNBC)

Ukrainian officials are preparing for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit next week, CNBC reported, which is now scheduled for Jan. 30–31. Pompeo canceled a previously planned trip to Ukraine and four other nations slated for early January amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran that led to protests and heightened security in the region.

The Trump administration is expected to announce completion as soon as today of one of its most momentous environmental rollbacks, removing federal protections for millions of miles of the country's streams, arroyos and wetlands. Trump has portrayed farmers as the main beneficiaries of the rollback. (AP)

Trump will attend the March for Life rally tomorrow, making him the first president in history to join the annual event, in person, to protest abortion. Trump will speak to the thousands of marchers who will gather on the National Mall for the event. (USA Today)

A new Wharton School study, looking at policy proposals from 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, finds that Sen. Bernie Sanders' proposed wealth tax will generate $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion less than he claims. The analysis also found that former Vice President Joe Biden's plan would raise $600 billion to $900 billion less than he estimates. (CNBC)

Boeing's (BA) new CEO said he wants the company to resume production of the 737 Max months before regulators sign off on the planes and airlines prepare to return them to service. Boeing shares fell more than 3% on Tuesday after the company pushed back its estimate of when regulators would sign off on the planes by months to the middle of 2020. (CNBC)

* Boeing CEO says it will keep paying its dividend despite Max crisis (CNBC)
* Calhoun says return of 737 Max was delayed further because it recommended pilot simulator training (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) filed a motion to pause the Department of Defense and Microsoft (MSFT) from carrying out an up to $10 billion cloud computing deal until a court rules on Amazon's protest of the contract award. Amazon, originally considered to be the favorite to win the business, had indicated last week that it would file a temporary restraining order. (Reuters)

The CEO of the Hallmark Channel's parent is leaving, according to the Wall Street Journal. The departure, effective tomorrow, comes just weeks after the channel found itself in a firestorm of controversy over commercials featuring a same-sex wedding ceremony.


Clothing retailer Express (EXPR) said it plans to shutter roughly 100 of its stores by 2022 as part of its strategy to save $80 million in costs annually over the next three years.

BP's (BP) finance chief Brian Gilvary is to step down in June after eight years in the role and will be replaced by a close ally of Bernard Looney, who takes over as chief executive next month. Murray Auchincloss, currently finance head of BP's upstream division, will become BP's chief financial officer on July 1.

A whistleblower said federal regulators improperly sped to authorize Southwest Airlines (LUV) to begin flights between California and Hawaii last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bankrupt California power producer PG&E (PCG) said it had reached a deal on its restructuring with creditors, who were pushing for a rival plan.

Ford Motor (F) will see a $2.2 billion pretax loss for the fourth quarter due to higher contributions to its employee pension plans.

Kinder Morgan (KMI) reported adjusted quarterly earnings of 26 cents per share, missing estimates by 1 cent. The pipeline operator's revenue also fell short of Wall Street forecasts, as prices for natural gas and crude oil fell.


New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will announce his retirement on Friday after 16 seasons with the team. "Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise's history," said Giants president John Mara. The announcement comes after a season in which Manning spent most of his time as backup to rookie Daniel Jones. (CNBC)