Morning Brief

What to watch today: Wall Street set for steady open after sell-off

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a steady open Wednesday, one day after the Dow broke its two-session winning streak with a 1.5% decline. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq saw their five-session winning streaks end with roughly 1% declines. The Nasdaq's slip followed Monday's record high as a rally in megacap tech stocks lost steam and concerns about the spikes in U.S. coronavirus cases dampened investor sentiment. (CNBC)

Fed's Mester says economic growth 'leveling off,' sees more help needed (CNBC)

Goldman Sachs is warning that the upcoming presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden could see delayed results similar to Bush-Gore in 2000. If that were to happen, Goldman strategist David Kostin said in a note to clients last night, "We see heightened risk that election-related volatility could extend beyond Election Day." (CNBC)

Homebuyers rushed back into the real estate market last week, taking advantage of record low mortgage rates. After a brief pullback at the end of June, mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 5% for the week and were a remarkable 33% higher than a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications to refinance rose 0.4% from the previous week but were 111% higher than one year ago. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Despite a record 60,000 new U.S. Covid-19 infections Tuesday and total cases in American approaching 3 million, President Donald Trump said the White House plans to pressure governors and educators to reopen schools in the fall. White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "We should try the best as possible to get the children back to school." But he added, "You don't want to be risking the health of the children or their families." (CNBC)

* Survey: 66% of parents anxious about sending kids to crowded classrooms again (CNBC)

The president points to a drop in U.S. deaths from the coronavirus despite surging cases as a positive. While the case-to-fatality rate in the U.S. is lower than many European nations as many more young people are among the recent new cases, Fauci said it's a "false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death." He added, "There are so many other things that are dangerous and bad about this virus."

World Health Organization says deaths could start to rise again, shouldn't 'be a surprise' (CNBC)
White House begins the process of withdrawing from the WHO (CNBC)
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who downplayed risks, tests positive for coronavirus (CNBC)
* Trump, Mexico's Lopez Obrador to celebrate USMCA; Canada's Trudeau skips (USA Today)

Texas reported more than 10,000 new infections Tuesday, a record-breaking daily surge as the state responds to a growing outbreak and rising hospitalizations. Texas is one of 36 states where cases grew by 5% or more, based on a seven-day average. The state has reported an average of 6,990 new cases based on a seven-day moving average, a near 26% increase from the previous week. (CNBC)

Some Florida hospitals run out of ICU beds in largest counties (CNBC)

Brooks Brothers, pioneer of the polo and uniform of the polished prepster, filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, as it continues to search for a buyer. The retailer, which is more than two centuries old, boasts of having dressed 40 U.S. presidents and countless investment bankers. (CNBC)

A two-year audit of Facebook's civil rights record, released today, found "serious setbacks" that have marred the social network's progress on matters of hate speech, misinformation and bias. The audit results come as more than 900 companies have joined a recent advertising boycott of Facebook (FB) and Facebook-owned Instagram to protest the company's handling of hate speech and misinformation. (AP)

Facebook's new Oversight Board says it won't get started until 'late fall' (CNBC)

J.K. Rowling has joined around 150 authors and academics in denouncing the so-called cancel culture, which refers to the online shaming of individuals who have done or said something that angry social media users consider objectionable or offensive. The "Harry Potter" author signed an open letter warning of an "intolerant climate" for free speech. (CNBC)

Trump is a textbook narcissist and his late real estate developer father Fred Trump Sr. was a sociopath, writes the president's niece, Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist and the author of the forthcoming book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man." The highly anticipated family tell-all is due to be released Tuesday. CNBC obtained an advance copy of the manuscript.

Warren Buffett announced today his annual charitable donations to the five philanthropies that will receive the bulk of his fortune. This year, the "Oracle of Omaha" is distributing 15.9 million class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway valued at about $2.9 billion. That brings his total philanthropic donations to more than $37 billion since 2006. Buffett has said he will give away more than 99% of his wealth. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Slack (WORK) has agreed to be buy software-as-a-service company Rimeto, which raised $10 million in venture funding. Rimeto builds a detailed employee dictionary for companies, allowing employers and fellow employees to see employees' skills, experience and current projects.

Shares of Intersect ENT (XENT) popped 35% after Bloomberg News reported Medtronic (MDT ) has made an offer to acquire the California-based medical device company. Though talks are still in their early stages, Intersect's board is reviewing the offer, according to the report.

National General (NGHC) shares surged more than 67% on news the company would be acquired by insurance giant Allstate (ALL). The deal, which is expected to close early next year, is worth $4 billion, or $34.50 per share, in cash. Allstate shares fell 2.5% in the premarket.

An analyst at JPMorgan upgraded electric truck maker Nikola (NKLA) to "overweight" from "neutral," noting the stock is "starting to look attractive for long-term investors in view of a number of potential positive catalysts in coming weeks and months." Nikola shares rose more than 11% in the premarket.

Deutsche Bank hiked its price target on Apple (AAPL) to $400 per share from $380 per share, implying a 7.3% upside from Tuesday's close of $372.69. "Overall, we feel comfortable that AAPL should continue to offer upside for investors," a Deutsche Bank analyst said in a note. However, the analyst noted the stock's recently sharp run-up "has us nervous."

Biogen (BIIB) shares jumped nearly 7% after the company submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration for aducanumab as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. "If approved, aducanumab would be the first treatment with the potential to meaningfully change the course of Alzheimer's disease," Biogen said in a release.

WATERCOOLER

Major League Soccer opens its World Cup-style return tournament in Florida today with a double header. First, Orlando City faces Inter Miami, followed by Chicago Fire versus Nashville SC. All games will be played without fans in attendance at the sports complex at Walt Disney World. (USA Today)

* Major League Baseball Covid-19 testing hits snag because FedEx didn't operate over holiday weekend (CNBC)