Morning Brief

What to watch today: Wall Street set to drop with tech stocks under continued pressure

BY THE NUMBERS

Dow futures were pointing to major declines at Thursday's open after the Labor Department's weekly report showed fewer than expected but persistently high new jobless claims.The Dow Jones Industrial Average was able to hold on to gains Wednesday, though it closed well off the highs after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates low for years. Tech stocks dragged the S&P 500 and Nasdaq lower, as they did last week. (CNBC)

Technology stocks were set to resume their recent sell-off with the so-called FANG block all dipping at least 1% in premarket. Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) led the declines, both falling 1.5%. Meanwhile, Tesla (TSLA) dropped more than 3%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq last week dipped into correction territory, falling more than 10% from a record high. (CNBC)

The government said this morning that filings for initial unemployment benefits for the week ending Sept. 12 totaled 860,000 after the prior week's 893,000, signalling the U.S. job market continues its plodding climb from the depths of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Following a peak of 6.9 million in late March, new claims had remained above 1 million a week through late August. (CNBC)

Snowflake was giving back about 6% in Thursday's premarket, one day after the largest ever software IPO more than doubled from its offering price of $120 per share. Shares of Snowflake,  a provider of cloud-based data storage and analysis software, began trading at $245 each and closed at $253.93. (CNBC)

One of the biggest winners on the first day of trading was venture capitalist Mike Speiser, who helped create Snowflake and was CEO from 2012-2014. Sutter Hill Ventures, where Speiser works, is sitting on a stake worth about $12.6 billion on a total investment of less than $200 million. (CNBC)

* Snowflake buyers beware. IPOs that doubled have poor track record after that debut (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Donald Trump urged Republicans to embrace a larger coronavirus stimulus package as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC on Wednesday that he's more optimistic about the chances for a deal in the last 72 hours than he has been in the last 72 days. Democrats want a much larger relief package than Republicans. (CNBC)

At a Wednesday evening news conference, Trump reiterated his willingness to accept a bigger relief package, saying, "I like the larger amount. I've said that. Some of the Republicans disagree. But I think I can convince them to go along with it." In an olive branch to Democrats, Trump said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has "come a long way." (Transcript)

Trump contradicted the vaccine timeline that CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield laid out Wednesday morning during sworn testimony at a Senate hearing. At his evening news conference, the president said Redfield was mistaken when he told senators it would take six to nine months for a vaccine to become available. Trump said the U.S. could start distributing a vaccine in October. (CNBC)

* Airline, cruise stocks under pressure due to conflicting messages about vaccine timeline (CNBC)
* Trump confirms White House staff member tested positive for Covid-19 (CNBC)
* Trump blames 'blue states' for increasing U.S. coronavirus death rates (USA Today)

Redfield also told senators a "face mask is more guaranteed" protection than a vaccine. Trump took issue with that, saying that a "vaccine is much more effective than the mask. The CDC then walked back some of Redfield's testimony, clarifying the agency's director believes in the importance of an eventual vaccine — but mitigation efforts, like masks, are the best tools currently available. (CNBC)

* Moderna expects to know if its coronavirus vaccine works by November (CNBC)
BioNTech buys German site from Novartis to boost vaccine output (Reuters)

The president expects to be briefed Thursday on the proposal for Silicon Valley's Oracle to become a "trusted technology provider" for TikTok's U.S. operations. However, Trump said Wednesday evening he does not like the idea of Beijing-based ByteDance keeping majority control. "Conceptually, I can tell you that I don't like that," he said. (Reuters)

* 'Not prepared to sign off on anything' for an Oracle-TikTok deal (CNBC)

ByteDance said overnight the Chinese government would have to approve any deal involving TikTok's U.S. business. Last month, citing national security concerns, Trump signed an executive order that ByteDance sell or spin off those assets or face a ban in American of the wildly popular social media app. (Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr told the nation's federal prosecutors to be aggressive when charging violent demonstrators with crimes, including potentially prosecuting them for plotting to overthrow the U.S. government, people familiar with the conversation said. (WSJ)

* Barr takes aim at prosecutors inside his own Justice Department (AP)

A military whistleblower said federal officials sought some unusual crowd control devices, including one that's been called a "heat ray," to deal with protesters outside the White House in June when law enforcement forcibly cleared Lafayette Square. (AP)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Shares of the office furniture builder Herman Miller (MLHR) jumped more than 13% on the back of better-than-expected results for the previous quarter. Herman Miller reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.24. Revenue was also stronger than expected at $626.8 million. The company also reestablished its quarterly dividend.

Eastman Kodak (KODK) shares gained another 3% after an independent review found the company didn't break any laws related to its disclosure of a $765 million loan from the U.S. government to help produce drug ingredients. The stock surged 36% on Wednesday alone.

CVS Health (CVS) shares rose slightly after Piper Sandler initiated the drugstore chain with an "overweight" rating. The Wall Street firm said CVS is "well positioned to transform health care access, quality, reduce costs." The stock is down more than 20% this year.

Penn National Gaming (PENN) shares fell slightly even after Stifel hiked its price target on the sports-betting company to a Street high of $85 per share, representing a 25% gain from here. The stock has surged more than 14% this week alone.