Morning Brief

What to watch today: Wall Street set to pick up where Friday's rally left off

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BY THE NUMBERS

Dow futures were pointing to a strong gain at Monday's open, which would add to Friday's 359-point, or 1.3%, advance for the 30-stock average as tech shares bounced. The S&P 500 was up 1.6%. The Nasdaq was the real winner Friday, up nearly 2.3%. Monday could see less trading volume than normal due to the Yom Kippur holiday. (CNBC)

The Dow and S&P 500 were lower for the fourth straight week. But the Nasdaq broke a three-week losing streak. With three days left in September, all three benchmarks were pacing for their first monthly losses since March, which saw the market plunge to coronavirus lows on March 23. (CNBC)

However, timing is everything in investing; for the third quarter, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq recorded strong gains, and the Dow and S&P 500 were each up about 50% since that late-March Covid-19 bottom while the Nasdaq was up nearly 65% over the same time period. (CNBC)

Virgin Galactic (SPCE) shares popped 13% after Bank of America and Susquehanna initiated coverage of the spaceflight company with "buy" and "positive" ratings, respectively. Susquehanna said it sees Virgin Galactic "as an innovator of space technology with a truly unique offering." (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

As cumulative global Covid-19 deaths approach 1 million, many European nations are experiencing a spike in new cases and many American states are as well. In fact, several states in the Midwest are seeing surges in positive coronavirus test rates. For example, North Dakota's positive test rate averaged 30% over the past seven days compared with 6% in the prior period. (Reuters)

* Fewer than 10% of Americans show signs of past coronavirus infection, study finds (CNBC)
* Shares of Inovio fall over 30% after FDA puts biotech's Covid-19 vaccine testing on hold (PR Newswire)
* CDC director voices alarm over influence of Trump's new coronavirus task force advisor (NBC News)
* Pelosi believes coronavirus stimulus deal still possible as Democrats prepare new package (CNBC)

President Donald Trump's businesses have hemorrhaged hundreds of millions of dollars over the last two decades, allowing him to minimize his federal income tax bill to $0 or nearly $0 for many of the years in that period, according to a bombshell report published on Sunday by The New York Times. Trump called the story "fake news" at a White House news conference.

* An editor's note from The New York Times on the Trump tax investigation

The Times' report came just days before Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden meet for their first general election debate Tuesday and days after the president nominated federal appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  If confirmed, Barrett would become the sixth conservative on the current court. With the death of Ginsburg, there are just three liberal justices. (CNBC)

* Democrats seek to turn Supreme Court fight into referendum on Obamacare (AP)

Former top manager to Trump's reelection campaign, Brad Parscale, was hospitalized Sunday after his wife reported that he was armed and threatening to harm himself. Also according to authorities, Parscale, 44, had multiple guns when police officers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, arrived at his home. (CNBC News)

A federal judge has temporarily blocked an order from the Trump administration, which would have banned TikTok, starting Sunday, from being downloaded from U.S. app stores. The judge, however, did not halt a much broader U.S. ban set for Nov. 12, which could effectively make TikTok unusable. An offer from Oracle and Walmart to take minority stakes in a newly created U.S. company TikTok Global remains stalled.

* U.S. sanctions on chipmaker SMIC hit at the very heart of China's tech ambitions (CNBC)

Uber (UBER) won its legal fight today to continue operating in London. A judge overturned a ban on the ride-hailing app by the city's transport regulator and granted it a new 18-month license. Last year, city regulators stripped Uber of its license for a second time, citing a "pattern of failures" that put passengers at risk. (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) has finally set a date for this year's Prime Day after months of coronavirus-related delays. Prime Day will once again run two days this year, with discounts kicking off at midnight PT on Oct. 13 and lasting through Oct. 14, the company said. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Shares of Caesars Entertainment (CZR) were up more than 6% after the casino operator disclosed a cash offer of 2.9 billion pounds to buy London-based sports betting site William Hill. London-listed William Hill (WMH-GB) dropped more than 10%.

Shares of Devon Energy (DVN) and WPX Energy each shot up about 12% after the two companies agreed to will move forward with a merger of equals. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year and will result in an enterprise value of about $12 billion for the new company.

Shares of Cleveland-Cliffs (CLF) jumped more than 9% after the company announced it would buy essentially all of ArcelorMittal's U.S. operations for about $1.4 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. ArcelorMittal's (MT) U.S.-listed shares were up more than 9%.

Sina Corp., which owns Chinese social media platform Weibo, will be taken private by the company's CEO in a deal valued at $43.30 per share or $2.6 billion. Sina (SINA) shares were up more than 5%.

Chevron (CVX) was upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" by an analyst at Bank of America, who noted the company's free cash flow can "can support fair value around $96 or 34% above current levels and with no need for any further recovery in oil prices." Shares of the energy giant rose by 1.9%.

Pinterest (PINS) shares were up 3.4% after Guggenheim initiated the social media company with a "buy" rating and a $48-per-share price target. That target implies a 20% upside from the stock's closing price of $39.90 per share on Friday.

United Parcel Service (UPS) was upgraded to "overweight" from "sector weight" by an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets, who said that capital deployment initiatives from the new CEO "combined with secular trends supporting domestic package growth, should aid margins and returns."