Morning Brief

What to watch today: Wall Street about to end a strong August and start historically challenging September

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were mixed Monday on the last day of August. The S&P 500, which closed above 3,500 on Friday for the first time, is about to close the books on its best August since the 1980s and embark on the historically challenging month of September. The Dow Jones Industrial Average's gain Friday was enough to push it into positive territory for the year. However, the Dow was still 3% away from its Feb. 12 records heading into Monday's trading session. (CNBC)

Fed’s Clarida says rates won’t rise just because unemployment falls (CNBC)
Leon Cooperman says future stock market returns will be ‘unimpressive for a long time’ (CNBC Pro)
Carlyle’s David Rubenstein: ‘Still a little nervous’ but market rally has ‘somewhere more to go’ (CNBC)

The Dow on Monday reflects changes in the 30 stocks that make up the average and a stock split in one of its most influential components. At the open, Salesforce, Amgen and Honeywell will be included in the Dow, replacing longtime components Exxon Mobil, Pfizer and Raytheon. Dow stock Apple rose in premarket trading as its 4-for-1 split took effect. Tesla, not a Dow stock but a favorite on Wall Street, saw its shares more higher after the electric auto maker's 5-for-1 split. (CNBC)

History of Apple stock splits says investors shouldn’t rush in to buy lower-priced shares (CNBC)

Our friends over at CNBC Select reviewed the best credit card options for people who want luxury perks and premium benefits. You can see their August 2020 review here.

IN THE NEWS TODAY

TikTok has chosen a bidder for its U.S., New Zealand and Australian businesses, and it could announce the deal as soon as Tuesday, according to people familiar with the situation. Microsoft (MSFT) in partnership with Walmart (WMT), and Oracle (ORCL) are the two top contenders for the deal. The sale price is expected to be in the range of $20 billion to $30 billion, CNBC reported last week.

ByteDance says it will abide by tightened China export laws as TikTok sale looms (CNBC)
TikTok denies it’s in talks with rival app Triller over potential bid for its U.S. operations (CNBC)

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway acquired stakes in each of the five leading Japanese trading companies. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO said Sunday, his 90th birthday, that his company bought slightly more than 5% positions in Itochu Corp., Marubeni Corp.Mitsubishi Corp.Mitsui & Co., and Sumitomo Corp. The Japanese trading companies, known as sogo shosha, are conglomerates that import everything from energy and metals to food and textiles into resource-scarce Japan. (CNBC)

McDonald's slammed former CEO Steve Easterbrook in a new legal filing on Monday, arguing that he should have to defend his conduct in court. More than two weeks ago, Easterbrook asked the Delaware court to dismiss the case filed by McDonald's, which is suing him to recoup his severance package after saying it discovered that he had sexual relationships with three additional women while at McDonald's. (CNBC)

Total U.S. coronavirus cases approached 6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data on Monday morning, with over 183,000 deaths. Cumulative infections globally topped 25.2 million, with more than 846,800 fatalities. Daily new cases in the U.S. have been trending lower after spiking earlier in the summer. Daily new infections globally have been up and down since late July. (JHU Data)

The Food and Drug Administration chief is prepared to bypass the full federal approval process in order to make a Covid-19 vaccine available as soon as possible, according to an interview in The Financial Times. Insisting that any move would not be due to pressure from the White House, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn told the FT an emergency authorization could be appropriate before phase three clinical trials are completed if the benefits outweigh the risks.

FDA expands emergency use of Gilead's remdesivir in hospitalized Covid-19 patients (Reuters)
Vir Biotechnology and GSK Start Phase 2/3 Study of COVID-19 Antibody Treatment (Press Release)

Democrats accused Trump of trying to inflame racial tensions and incite violence to benefit his reelection campaign after the president praised supporters who clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon. Trump unleashed a flurry of tweets and retweets Sunday, the day after a right-wing group member was shot and killed in Portland. (AP)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden charged that Trump of "fanning the flames of hate and division." Trump also announced he will travel on Tuesday to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, sparked protests. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

BlackRock (BLK) received approval from China regulators to set up a mutual fund unit in that country, becoming the first global asset manager to receive such approval.

Restaurant operator Yum China (YUMC) has begun taking orders for a secondary share listing in Hong Kong that could raise more than $2.5 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

J.P. Morgan Chase analyst Stephen Tusa removed his price target on General Electric (GE), citing the lack of forward visibility. The firm's rating on GE remains at "neutral," although the report said the fair value of the stock is likely less than $5 per share.

AT&T (T) is exploring options for its DirecTV unit, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. Apollo Global Management (APO) is said to be among the interested bidders for the satellite TV operator.

Switzerland's Nestle will pay $2 billion to acquire full ownership of the U.S.-based biopharmaceutical company Aimmune Therapeutics (AIMT), best known for its Palforzia treatment for peanut allergies. Nestle already had a 25.6% stake in Aimmune, and will pay $34.50 per share for the remainder compared to Aimmune's Friday closing price of $12.60.

Philips (PHG), the Dutch medical equipment maker, said the U.S. government has canceled the bulk of an order for 43,000 ventilators, and it has cut its 2020 earnings outlook as a result. A U.S. House panel had determined last month that the government had overpaid Philips by at least $500 million.

United Airlines (UAL) said it would permanently eliminate ticket change fees, as it tries to woo customers back after the pandemic-induced travel demand slump. United's standard domestic ticket change fee had been $200.