Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow futures turn positive after positive data on a potential Covid-19 treatment


Dow futures turned positive after Gilead Sciences said its antiviral remdesivir was "associated with an improvement in clinical recovery and a 62% reduction in the risk of mortality" in Covid-19 patients. Shares of Gilead were higher in the premarket. (CNBC)

Wall Street was lower earlier, one day after the U.S. saw a record-high 63,200 new daily Covid-19 cases. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday fell 360 points, or 1.4%, on renewed concerns about slowing business reopenings — and in some cases reclosures — in hot-spot states. However, the Nasdaq rose 0.5%, closing at another record as investors continued to buy what they perceive as coronavirus-proof tech stocks. (CNBC)

BioNTech's (BNTX) U.S.-listed shares rose about 2% in the premarket after CEO Dr. Ugur Sahin told The Wall Street Journal its coronavirus vaccine candidate could be ready for approval by December.

On today's economic calendar, the government reported a key measure of inflation Friday morning. The June producer price index fell 0.2%. Economists had expected a 0.4% gain. (CNBC)

* Coronavirus mortgage bailout sees biggest one-week decline yet, but more borrowers are extending terms (CNBC)


United Airlines and the union representing its some 13,000 pilots have reached a tentative agreement for voluntary furloughs and early retirement packages. United is the last of the four biggest U.S. carriers to reach such an agreement with pilots. Shares of United, which lost more than 7% Thursday, were dropping another 3.5% in Friday's premarket. (CNBC)

* American, United call off Hong Kong flights after crew testing rules (CNBC)

Shares of Disney were under pressure in Friday's premarket trading, ahead of Saturday's reopening of Walt Disney World in Orlando, at a time when Florida is seeing major Covid-19 spikes. Disney and Comcast's Universal theme parks in California have yet to be given the green light to reopen as coronavirus infections also surge in the Golden State. Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

* Ford may have to shut some U.S. car plants if it fails to receive Mexico-produced engines (Reuters)

California and Florida were among 12 states that hit a record-breaking, seven-day average for daily new Covid-19 cases, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. States grappling with expanding coronavirus outbreaks should seriously consider shutting down again, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on a Wall Street Journal podcast this week.

* Fauci says he has not briefed Trump in two months and has not seen him at the White House since early June (FT)

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic is "getting worse" around the world as a record 227,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported globally Thursday. In a stark difference to the way China and Hong Kong handle coronavirus spikes, Hong Kong is closing schools Monday after 34 locally transmitted cases were reported, marking the second consecutive day of rising infections in the Chinese territory. (CNBC & Reuters)

* WHO: Airborne transmission in restaurants, gyms and other closed spaces can't be ruled out (CNBC)
* Catholic Church won $1.4 billion in coronavirus aid (AP)

The Big Ten will play conference-only schedules in all fall sports, including football, should the American college league be able to participate in athletic events at all in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Big Ten's move could portend similar changes across the highest level of college sports. (USA Today)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is blasting President Donald Trump for being too focused on the stock market during the coronavirus crisis. The former vice president, laying out his moderate plans for an economic recovery, also said he wants to end what he called the "era of shareholder capitalism." (CNBC)

* Trump says he'll wear a mask during upcoming trip to Walter Reed (The Hill)

Amazon (AMZN) plans to create at least $100 million in stock awards to retain the 900-plus employees of Zoox, the self-driving car startup it offered to buy last month, and can walk away from the deal if large numbers of them turn down job offers from the technology giant. (Reuters)

* iPhone users can now get a first look at the biggest changes coming to their phones this fall (CNBC)

Tropical Storm Fay is quickly moving up the East Coast. While not a major storm, it will bring the threat of locally heavy rain, gusty winds and poor beach conditions through early Saturday to parts of the Northeast. Flash flood watches have been issued from the Delmarva Peninsula to southern New England, including the entire New York City metro area. (The Weather Channel)


An analyst at Susquehanna upgraded Foot Locker (FL) to positive from neutral and hiked his price target on the stock to $34 per share from $25 per share. The new price target implies an upside of 21.5% over the next 12 months. The upgrade reflects young customers "heading to Foot Locker Inc.'s store banners and websites to spend the newfound money in their pockets to a greater degree than what was reflected in our prior estimates," the analyst said.

RBC Capital Markets downgraded Redfin (RDFN) to sector perform from outperform, citing a high valuation after the stock skyrocketed 400% from its mid-March low. "Valuation has crept up to an extent we see the risk-reward reasonably balanced, given larger macro uncertainties," RBC said.

Wells Fargo (WFC) was upgraded to outperform from hold by an analyst at Baird, who said the stock's decline this year is an opportunity "to add bank exposure." The analyst also said Wells Fargo has a "highly attractive" valuation when looking at a number of metrics.

Citigroup initiated Beyond Meat (BYND) with a sell rating and a price target of $123 per share, which implies a downside of 12% from Thursday's close of $141.22 per share. Citi expects the meatless meat maker to face long-term pressure as competition in the space grows as well as near-term struggles "as a result of its exposure to the foodservice segment." Shares of Beyond Meat dropped 2.6%.

An analyst at Rosenblatt Securities hiked his price target on Nvidia (NVDA) to $500 per share from $400, implying an upside of 18.9% from Thursday's close. The analyst said a "secular shift" into data-processing units and the company's "entrance into new markets" will drive revenue growth for Nvidia in the years ahead.

Citigroup raised its price target on Amazon (AMZN) to a Street high of $3,550 per share from $2,700. The new price target implies an upside of more than 11% from Thursday's close of $3,182.63. The analyst said Amazon's share price will keep rising as the e-commerce market continues to grow.