Morning Brief

What to watch today: Futures drop ahead of Fed chief Powell's speech

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were pointing to losses at Thursday's open after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to new highs and ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's speech set for 9:10 a.m. ET. The central bank chief addresses the Kansas City Fed's annual symposium, held virtually this year instead of at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, against the backdrop of extraordinary monetary policy measures designed to combat the negative economic effects of the coronavirus. (CNBC)

Forty minutes before Powell's address, the Labor Department issued its weekly look at jobless claims. Just over 1 million people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week after more than 1.1 million new claims the prior week. The Commerce Department reported a slight improvement in its second look at second-quarter gross domestic product: An economic contraction of 31.7%. (CNBC)

Also on today's economic calendar, the National Association of Realtors is out at 10 a.m. ET with July pending home sales. Meanwhile, Dell Technologies (DELL), Gap (GPS), HP (HPQ), Ulta Beauty (ULTA) and Workday (WDFAY) are among the companies releasing quarterly earnings after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

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IN THE NEWS TODAY

Hurricane Laura pounded the Gulf Coast for hours with ferocious wind and torrential rain as it roared ashore as a monster Category 4 storm over southwestern Louisiana near the Texas line early Thursday. The region is home to about half of America's oil refineries. U.S. gasoline futures were actually down 2% on Thursday morning while West Texas Intermediate crude prices were flat. (AP)

The Milwaukee Bucks' refusal to play their playoff game Wednesday night to protest racial injustice after Sunday's police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin sent a ripple effect across sports leagues. Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the WNBA also saw cancellations. (AP)

The White Wisconsin officer who shot Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back has been identified as a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department. The Justice Department said Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, while holding onto his shirt after officers first unsuccessfully used a taser and as Blake leaned into his vehicle. (AP)

Biden says he talked to Blake’s family, condemns ‘needless violence’ in Kenosha (CNBC)

One day after Vice President Mike Pence's measured speech, President Donald Trump accepts the GOP nomination on the final night of the Republican National Convention. The president's address Thursday night comes as the nation endures a pandemic, a battered economy, a racial reckoning and a massive hurricane. (AP)

Here are the highlights from Night 3 of the Republican National Convention (CNBC)

Following Trump's push for China-based ByteDance to sell its U.S. TikTok interests, the CEO of the wildly popular video app has stepped down. Kevin Mayer, who was previously Disney's (DIS) head of streaming, joined TikTok as chief executive just two months ago. He cited the changing political environment for this decision. (CNBC)

Republicans are working on a more narrow coronavirus stimulus bill that they could release this week, two senior Trump administration officials and three people briefed on the matter told CNBC. The GOP is mulling a roughly $500 billion proposal that addresses only areas of bipartisan support, including expanded unemployment insurance, but not another direct payment to Americans.

Nearly 35 million households will lose their utility shutoff protections over the next month (CNBC)
Wealth gap grows as rising corporate profits boost stock holdings controlled by richest households (CNBC)

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) said late Wednesday it has received U.S. authorization for a portable Covid-19 test that can deliver results within 15 minutes and costs $5. Abbott expects to ship tens of millions of these tests in September, ramping to 50 million tests a month shortly thereafter. Shares of Abbott jumped 9.5% in Thursday's premarket trading on the announcement. (Reuters)

CDC proposes guidelines for distributing coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. (CNBC)
* WHO says children do a play a role in coronavirus spread, but schools are not a ‘main contributor’ (CNBC)

Soon-to-be new Dow component Salesforce (CRM) started to notify some of its staff they could lose their jobs, according to The Wall Street Journal, one day after the business-software provider reported record sales, sending its stock surging 26%. Around 1,000 of Salesforce's 54,000 employees are affected, the Journal reported.

Facebook (FB) said that Apple's (AAPL) upcoming iOS 14 could lead to a more than 50% drop in its Audience Network advertising business. Facebook said its apps on iOS 14 will not collect a unique device ID number that allows advertisers to better target ads and estimate their effectiveness. (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos saw his net worth soar above $202 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the first person to cross the $200 billion threshold. He's now $78 billion richer than Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, who stands at number two. (CNBC)

Amazon expands grocery business beyond Whole Foods with first Fresh store in Los Angeles (CNBC)
Shopify COO says Amazon-backed California regulation would make it ‘more difficult’ for entrepreneurs (CNBC)

Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng has increased the size of its U.S initial public offering to about $1.49 billion, according to Reuters. Based on the new size of the deal, Xpeng would be valued at around $11.2 billion following its IPO. Xpeng shares will start trading in New York on today.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Tiffany (TIF) reported a mixed quarter, with revenue below forecasts, but earnings beating analysts' estimates. Tiffany's results were helped by an improvement in sales in China, and the company said global sales trends are continuing to improve during the current quarter. Comparable-store sales fell 24% from a year ago, compared to the drop of 16.9% expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) reported an unexpected quarterly profit, in addition to seeing revenue come in above Wall Street estimates. Abercrombie said, however, that it expects continued material adverse impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Burlington Stores (BURL) lost 56 cents per share for its latest quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of a loss of $1.04 per share. Revenue came in slightly below estimates, with comparable sales in re-opened stores down 14% from a year earlier. The company said it should see improvement this quarter as it replenishes inventory, but warns it sees "a lot of risk" as well.

Coty (COTY) reported a loss of 46 cents per share for its fiscal fourth quarter, wider than the 12 cents a share loss anticipated by Wall Street analysts. Revenue also came in well below forecasts. The cosmetics company said the quarter and the full fiscal year were severely impacted by the pandemic, but that it expects significant improvement for the current quarter.

Dollar Tree (DLTR) earned $1.10 per share for its second quarter, 18 cents a share above estimates. Revenue topped forecasts as well. Comparable store sales were up 7.2%, better than the 6.2% consensus FactSet estimate.

Dollar General (DG) earned $3.21 per share for its latest quarter, compared to a consensus estimate of $2.44 a share. Revenue was also above forecasts. Comparable-store sales were up 18.8%, better than the 14.9% increase anticipated by analysts polled by FactSet. Dollar General also announced a $2 billion increase in its share buyback program. Both Dollar General and rival Dollar General benefited from pandemic-fueled shopping for essentials.

Williams-Sonoma (WSM) earned $1.80 per share for its latest quarter, beating the $1.01 a share consensus estimate. The housewares retailer's revenue came in slightly above forecasts. Comparable-store sales were better than expected and e-commerce jumped 46%. The stock is under some pressure, however, with the company not giving forward guidance and saying it sees a sizable headwind from shipping charges.

Under Armour (UAA) was sued by the University of California, Los Angeles, for pulling out of a 15-year apparel deal with the school. UCLA is seeking more than $200 million in damage after Under Armour ended the pact after college sports were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.