Morning Brief

What to watch today: S&P 500 takes aim again at February's record close

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were steady Monday morning, with the S&P 500 less than 1% away from its record close of 3,386.15 on Feb. 19. The index traded above that level on Wednesday and Thursday, but failed to close at a record. Despite Friday's slightly lower close, the S&P 500 gained over 0.6% for the week and stands nearly 54% above its March 23 low heading into Monday's trading day. (CNBC)

Retail earnings hit the market this week, with Home Depot (HD), Walmart (WMT) and Kohl's (KSS) kicking things off Tuesday. Lowe's (LOW) and Target (TGT) report quarter results Wednesday. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back into session, cutting lawmakers' summer recess short as concerns grow among Democrats over whether the Trump White House is trying to undermine the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the election. Many Americans are expected to vote by mail to avoid going to polling places during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP)

* Democrats call for Postal chief to testify at 'urgent' Congress hearing over election concerns (CNBC)
DeJoy says in memo 'unintended consequences' of his policy overhaul (NBC News)

Joe Biden takes a 9-point lead over President Donald Trump into this week's Democratic convention, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The former vice president holds double-digit advantages over Trump on the coronavirus, immigration, health care, race relations and uniting the country.

On the convention program, ex-rival for the Democratic presidential nomination Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Monday night. Biden running mate Sen. Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama close out Wednesday. The convention wraps up Thursday night, with Biden officially accepting the Democratic nomination. (DNC)

The Republican National Convention runs next week, with the GOP set to nominate Trump for reelection. (RNC)

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in the second quarter added a stake worth about $562 million in miner Barrick Gold, which saw its shares pop 7% in Monday's premarket, a gain that would add to Barrick's already 45% year-to-date increase. According to its quarterly 13-F filing, Berkshire cut stakes in major banks, including Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, and completely exited its investment in Goldman Sachs. (CNBC Pro)

* David Tepper bets big on e-commerce in the second quarter (CNBC Pro)
Starboard Value's Jeffrey Smith cuts EBay stake, bets big on software (CNBC Pro)
Here are Bill Ackman’s latest stock moves (CNBC Pro)
Chase Coleman's Tiger Global increased bets on several major software stocks (CNBC Pro)
Early Nikola investor Jeffrey Ubben trims position (CNBC Pro)

Procter & Gamble (PG) is among the companies whose stakes were cut by Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management, according to the firm's quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Trian also reduced its investments in Bank of New York Mellon (BK) and General Electric (GE). (Barron's)

Alibaba (BABA) could face a ban in the U.S., with Trump saying over the weekend that he's considering such a move against the China-based e-commerce giant. The statement follows the order to China's ByteDance to divest the U.S. operations of its TikTok business within 90 days. (Reuters)

Home Depot (HD) has seen a 35% jump in daily foot traffic since April, according to a study cited in The Wall Street Journal. The increase came as consumers stuck at home began ramping up various home improvement projects and despite the pandemic-related cancellation of Home Depot's usual spring sales.

STOCKS TO WATCH

IBM (IBM) announced a new data center processor that it says will able to handle triple the workload of its predecessor. Samsung has been tapped by IBM to manufacture the new chip known as the Power10.

Nvidia (NVDA) is in exclusive talks to buy chipmaker ARM, according to a report in the U.K.'s Evening Standard. The report said a takeover of the SoftBank-backed company could value it at up to 40 billion pounds, or $52.4 billion.

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com (JD) beat estimates on both the top and bottom lines for the second quarter, helped by a nearly 30% increase in annual active customer accounts to a total of 417.4 million. JD also said mobile active users in June were up by 40% compared to a year earlier.

Procter & Gamble (PG) is among the companies whose stakes were cut by Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management, according to the firm's quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Trian also reduced its investments in Bank of New York Mellon (BK) and General Electric (GE).

Hertz (HTZ) announced the resignation of chief financial officer Jamere Jackson, with the car rental company saying Jackson resigned to pursue another opportunity. Accounting chief Eric Esper was named to replace Jackson.

Novavax (NVAX) drugmaker is beginning a mid-stage study of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, which has seen a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Vaccine developer CureVac (CVAC) is poised to surge once again, following its Wall Street debut on Friday. The stock closed at $55.90 Friday after its initial public offering was priced at $16 per share.