Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow to rise, Powell testifies, coronavirus death toll passes 1,000



U.S. stock futures point to a higher open, following record closes for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq on Monday, as investors are encouraged by a slowdown in the number of new coronavirus cases. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are higher in five of the past six sessions, and four S&P sectors are at record highs: Consumer Discretionary, Consumer Staples, Tech and Real Estate. (CNBC)

* Ray Dalio thinks the coronavirus' hit to global markets is probably exaggerated (CNBC)

The director-general of the World Health Organization reportedly warned that while almost all of the confirmed coronavirus cases are in China, the outbreak constitutes a "very grave threat" for the rest of the world. China's National Health Commission reported that a total of 42,638 cases had been confirmed in the country, with 1,016 deaths. (CNBC)

* Nearly 200 evacuees to leave cornavirus quarantine in US (AP)

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell testifies today and tomorrow in the first of his twice-a-year economic updates to Congress, with investors listening for commentary on any coronavirus impact on the U.S. economy. On today's economic calendar, the government is out with JOLTS, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, for December at 10 a.m. ET. (CNBC)

AutoNation (AN), Hasbro (HAS), Hilton Worldwide (HLT), Tegna (TGNA) and Under Armour (UAA) are out with quarterly earnings this morning, while Denny's (DENN), Groupon (GRPN), Lyft (LYFT), and Western Union (WU) are among the companies issuing quarterly numbers after the bell.

A U.S. district judge is expected to rule in favor of allowing Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS) to merge over the objections of a group of state attorneys general, Reuters reported. It's a decision that's supposed to be made today. Shares of Sprint surged 69% in Monday's after-hours trade and T-Mobile stock rose 8%. (CNBC)


The Democratic presidential race is deeply unsettled heading into today's New Hampshire primary. It may be up to the state to put some structure around the chaotic contest, with Iowa being unable to declare a clear winner. New Hampshire's secretary of state has predicted a healthy 292,000 Democratic voters, which would be about 40,000 more than voted in 2016. (AP)

* Small New Hampshire town of Dixville Notch votes for Bloomberg in primary (USA Today)
* Pete Buttigieg sees surge in support from business execs after his strong showing in Iowa (CNBC)
* Bernie Sanders hopes New Hampshire primary will tighten his early grip on 2020 race (CNBC)
* Mike Bloomberg could 'handily beat' Trump in 2020, says ex-Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) is seeking to question President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Defense Secretary James Mattis over a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract awarded to Microsoft (MSFT). Amazon's cloud computing arm said it's looking to depose seven "individuals who were instrumental" in the JEDI source selection. (CNBC)

The Justice Department indicted four members of China's military for the cyberattack against credit ratings agency Equifax in 2017. The incident led to the loss of personal information belonging to 145 million people, mostly in the U.S. but also in Canada and Europe. (CNBC)

The FAA is narrowing the issues needed before it can conduct a certification test flight on the grounded Boeing (BA) 737 Max, but will not commit to a timetable for lifting a flight ban. The certification flight to be carried out by FAA pilots "is not scheduled yet because we still have a few issues to resolve, but we continue to narrow the issues," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. (Reuters)

* DOT watchdog probes FAA's pilot training after 2 deadly crashes of Boeing 737 Max (CNBC)

Google (GOOGL) human resources chief Eileen Naughton is stepping down from her role as tensions grown between employees and management. Naughton, who has held various roles at the company since 2006, has led the company's human resources department as the vice president of people operations since 2016. (CNBC)

Shares of Slack (WORK) fell over 7% in the premarket after it filed an 8-K on Monday downplaying a news report that sent its stock surging more than 15%. The statement was issued in response to an earlier report that a new deal had been struck that made IBM Slack's largest customer, which had sent the stock surging in the regular session Monday. (CNBC)


ViacomCBS (VIACA) unit CBS Sports has struck a deal with sports betting company William Hill, allowing William Hill to seek new customers among the CBS Sports audience. William Hill would seek to get CBS Sports users to download its app and deposit money in betting accounts.

Callaway Golf (ELY) lost 26 cents per share for its fourth quarter, wider than the 23 cent loss that analysts were expecting. The golf club maker did report better-than-expected revenue, but said the coronavirus will have a negative impact in terms of both sales in Asia and on supplies.

XPO Logistics (XPO) beat estimates by 10 cents with adjusted quarterly earnings of $1.12 per share, though the transportation and delivery company's revenue did fall below analyst forecasts. XPO also announced the appointment of a new chief financial officer.

Boston Beer (SAM) was upgraded to outperform from neutral at Credit Suisse, which points to the company's increasing involvement in the hard seltzer market. Credit Suisse also increased its price target on the beer brewer's stock to $525 per share from $400.


Snack-maker Kind is branching out even further from its signature nut bars. By midyear, frozen and refrigerated bars, chocolate bark and snack mixes from Kind will be in grocery stores. The company already sells fruit bites and grain clusters in addition to granola and nut bars. (CNBC)