Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow set to drop on U.S.-China concerns and terrible retail sales


Dow futures were pointing to a sharp decline at Friday's open after the Trump administration moved to block semiconductor shipments to China-based telecom giant Huawei, which has been at the center of a simmering technological trade dispute between Washington and Beijing. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 377 points, or 1.6%, after being down more than 450 points earlier in the session. (CNBC)

The government said Friday that April retail sales plunged a record 16.4% as coronavirus lockdowns closed stores around the world. Economists had expected a 12.3% drop after an 8.3% dive in March. (CNBC)

Reflecting the tough retail landscape in a Covid-19 world, struggling J.C. Penney plans as early as Friday to file for bankruptcy, following J.Crew and Neiman Marcus earlier this month. (CNBC)

Nike (NKE) warned that pandemic-related store closures during the current quarter will hurt its retail and wholesale results. The athletic footwear and apparel maker did say that 100% of its Greater China stores have reopened and that online sales are helping offset lost sales from store closures. (CNBC)

The New York Stock Exchange is set to reopen its trading floor to some brokers May 26, the day after Memorial Day. The NYSE went fully electronic two months ago after two people tested positive at entryway coronavirus screenings. Designated market makers, who oversee trading of 2,200 NYSE-listed companies, will continue to work remotely. (CNBC)


The White House would likely support another round of stimulus checks, two senior administrative officials told CNBC. Direct payments to Americans, and a host of other measures to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus, are included in the House Democrats' $3 trillion relief bill that's set for a vote Friday. Republicans on Capitol Hill have said the legislation in its current form would be dead on arrival in the Senate. (CNBC)

* White House preparing executive order requiring certain essential drugs be made in U.S. (CNBC)

Stay-at-home orders or coronavirus business restrictions in a dozen states are set to expire by Monday, according to Politico. Five regions in New York state will be allowed to begin a phased reopening of their economies starting Friday. New York City is not among them. Total U.S. coronavirus cases topped 1.4 million with over 85,000 deaths. Global cases exceeded 4.4 million with over 300,000 deaths.

An Amazon warehouse employee on New York's Long Island has died from the coronavirus, marking the sixth known fatality of a company worker from Covid-19. The April death of George Leigh, 59, at Amazon's Bethpage distribution center, known as DNY4, comes as Amazon faces growing pressure to disclose the number of workers who have tested positive or died from the virus.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning that early data suggests Abbott Laboratories' rapid Covid-19 diagnostic test may be delivering inaccurate results. Specifically, the Abbott ID NOW test, used by the White House to screen staffers and visitors, may return false negative results.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to physicians about an emerging rare but deadly condition linked to Covid-19 in children. The illness, which the CDC calls multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, has been reported in at least 19 states and Washington, D.C., according to NBC News.

Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) will spend $12 billion to build a chip factory in Arizona. Construction will begin next year, with a goal of beginning chip production in 2024. (CNBC)

Disney's stage production of the hit animated film "Frozen" has become the first Broadway musical to shutter during the pandemic. The closure announcement comes days after the Broadway League trade group said theaters would remain shuttered through at least Labor Day. (CNBC)

Disney reaches deal with Walt Disney World unions on safeguards for returning to work (Reuters)


Denny's (DENN) reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, even as the restaurant chain's revenue tumbled 36% from a year earlier. Denny's streamlined its menu as the pandemic spread, and emphasized curbside delivery and shareable family meal packs.

VF Corp. (VF), the maker of North Face apparel and Vans shoes, earned an adjusted 10 cents per share for its latest quarter, 4 cents a share below estimates. Revenue also missed analysts' forecasts and VF said it sees current-quarter revenue falling a little more than 50% this quarter, but it does intend to continue paying its dividend.

Dillard's (DDS) reported a smaller-than-expected loss for its latest quarter, and the retailer announced plans to reopen 116 stores and five clearance centers next week.

Office Depot (ODP) plans to cut more than 13,000 jobs and close an undetermined number of stores by the end of 2023. The office supplies retailer said the restructuring could save it as much as $860 million.

DraftKings (DKNG) posted a larger-than-expected quarterly loss, although revenue grew 30% from a year ago despite the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down sports events. The sports betting company does not expect a virus-related impact on its longer-term projections. (JD), the China-based e-commerce retailer, beat estimates by a wide margin on both the top and bottom lines for its latest quarter, with annual active customer accounts up 24.8% from a year ago and mobile active daily users up 46%.

Applied Materials (AMAT) fell 5 cents a share shy of estimates, with quarterly earnings of 89 cents per share. The maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment's revenue also came in short of forecasts. The company said it expected to recoup any pandemic-related lost sales during the second half of the year.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB) posted a smaller loss for its latest quarter, with sales of cannabis jumping 39% from a year ago as customers in the U.S. and Canada stockpiled products ahead of virus-related lockdowns.


Facebook on Friday is hosting a "Graduation 2020" virtual commencement, with speeches from Oprah Winfrey, Awkwafina, Lil Nas X and Simone Biles, among others. Separately, YouTube, a unit of Alphabet's Google, is offering a "Dear Class of 2020" celebration headlined by Barack and Michelle Obama. Lady Gaga will be among the other speakers. (CNBC)