Morning Brief

What to watch today: Wall Street looks to extend late surge in dismal September

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were steady Tuesday morning, one day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose for the third straight session. While recent gains chipped away at September's terrible trading, all three indexes were still on track for their first monthly declines since March. However, for the third quarter, their strong gains remained intact and so were their more than 50% gains from their March 23 coronavirus lows. (CNBC)

Earnings season kicks off soon and results could be better than feared (CNBC)
* UBS advises investors to buy gold now before it goes back to all-time highs (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, the S&P/Case-Shiller report on July home prices is out at 9 a.m. ET. The Conference Board issues its September consumer confidence index at 10 a.m. ET. This afternoon, semiconductor maker Micron Technology (MU) issues quarterly earnings after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Covid-19 has now killed more than 1 million people since the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China late last year and then spread around the world. The U.S. accounts for more than 20% of global fatalities and over 33 million infections. Declared a pandemic over six months ago, Covid-19 has shuttered businesses and schools everywhere, wreaking havoc on global economies and leaving millions and millions of people unemployed. (CNBC)

Timeline of insidious path coronavirus took around the world (CNBC)
Medical historian compares the coronavirus to the 1918 flu pandemic (CNBC)
Health-care workers share stories from the front lines (CNBC)
Coronavirus shifts power balance in air travel to last-minute leisure passengers (CNBC)
How U.S. economic response to the pandemic stacks up to rest of world (CNBC)

The CDC has issued new guidance that discouraged Americans from packing into shopping malls or standing in long lines before, on, or after Thanksgiving. The agency added Black Friday, which recently has become a multiday event, to a list of activities with a higher likelihood of contributing to the spread of Covid-19. (CNBC)

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden face off in their first presidential debate Tuesday night at a time when Covid-19 has severely curtailed their campaign appearances. Investors are uneasy about the former vice president's plans to raise taxes. However, a perceived debate draw could also hamper markets, which desire clarity as national polls, still in Biden's favor, narrow. (CNBC)

* Pelosi: Trump's reported massive debt load raises 'a national security question (MSNBC)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to speak again Tuesday about narrowing their differences on additional Covid-19 economic stimulus. They spoke by phone Sunday and Monday, trying to jumpstart negotiations that broke down early last month. House Democrats on Monday unveiled a new, trimmed-down $2.2 trillion relief bill. (CNBC)

As Washington debates new stimulus, the nation's airlines and their unions are lobbying Congress for another $25 billion in coronavirus aid to delay tens of thousands of furloughs for another six months. The original $25 billion in federal pandemic relief in March and a related prohibition on workforce reductions expires Thursday. (AP)

Two women have come forward with formal sexual assault allegations against Nikola (NKLA) founder Trevor Milton, accusing the 38-year-old billionaire in complaints filed with Utah authorities of sexual abuse when both women were 15 years old. Last week, Milton resigned as executive chairman after short-seller Hindenburg Research released a report detailing fraud allegations. Earlier this month, General Motors (GM) agreed to take an 11% stake in Nikola and enter a production alliance. (CNBC)

LVMH (MC-FR) has filed a countersuit against Tiffany (TIF), in a bid to walk away from the $16.2 billion takeover that would have been the biggest ever in the luxury industry. LVMH accused Tiffany of financial mismanagement during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNBC)

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a former Amazon finance manager and two family members with insider trading, alleging they made about $1.4 million from unlawful trading. The agency alleges Laksha Bohra had access to confidential information ahead of the company's quarterly and annual earnings reports. (CNBC)

* Amazon launches $4.99 per month personal shopping service for men (TechCrunch)

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) will begin providing same-day delivery, just in time for the holiday season, and as more people than ever are shopping online during the coronavirus pandemic. Bed Bath & Beyond is partnering with Instacart and Target-owned Shipt. (CNBC)

Walmart (WMT) is in advanced talks to invest up to $25 billion in India-based conglomerate Tata Group's "super app," according to a report in the Mint newspaper. The app is set to launch in December or January, and would offer a wide range of products sold by Tata's consumer business.

Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit will require app developers that distribute apps through the Google Play store to use its in-app payment system, which takes a 30% fee. Netflix (NFLX) and Spotify (SPOT) are among those who prompt Android users to pay them directly using a credit card. (CNBC)

Intermittent fasting, in which eating is restricted to a specific window of time, does not help dieters lose weight, according to a University of California, San Francisco researchers. A 12-week UCSF study of 116 overweight people found no statistically significant difference in weight loss between those who restricted eating to a specific eight-hour period every day and those who did not. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

IHS Markit (INFO), a financial information and analytics, provider earned 77 cents per share for its latest quarter, 8 cents a share above estimates. Revenue was in line with forecasts. The company said it is seeing recovery at "varying speeds" in the markets it serves.

McCormick (MKC) came in one penny per share ahead of estimates, with quarterly earnings of $1.53 per share. Revenue also beat projections. However, the spice maker warned on full-year earnings. McCormick also announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

Bank of America Securities upgraded hotel operators. Extended Stay America (STAY), Park Hotels (PK), Pebblebrook (PEB) and Sunstone (SHO) to "buy" from "neutral," positioning for a possible Covid-19 vaccine and potential travel recovery. BofA acknowledges that demand in certain segments remains "extremely challenged."

Big Lots (BIG) expects quarterly earnings of 50 cents to 70 cents per share, compared to a consensus estimate of 21 cents a share as demand for home goods remains strong. The discount retailer's fiscal third-quarter ends Oct. 31.

Microsoft's (MSFT) Office 365 and Azure cloud services suffered a disruption of several hours on Monday, impacting users of such services as Outlook email and the Teams office collaboration suite.

Universal Health Services (UHS) took its computer systems offline after the hospital operator suffered a malware attack. Universal Health said the outage did not cause any patient harm. No patient or employee data appears to have been accessed, it added.

Polaris Industries (PII), the recreational vehicle maker, signed a 10-year deal with Zero Motorcycles to develop and sell electric off-road vehicles and snowmobiles. The partnership's first vehicle is expected to debut by the end of 2021.

United Natural Foods (UNFI) reported quarterly earnings of $1.06 per share, beating the 74 cents a share consensus estimate. Revenue also exceeded forecasts. The largest U.S. publicly traded food wholesaler also gave a better-than-expected fiscal 2021 earnings outlook.

WATERCOOLER

The Tampa Bay Lightning left the Covid-19 bubble with the Stanley Cup last night after their 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars secured the best-of-seven final 4-2 and brought an end to two months of quarantine. Celebrating in a near-empty Edmonton arena, the Lightning became NHL champions for a second time. (Reuters)

CORRECTION: This newsletter has been updated to show that Polaris Industries signed a 10-year deal with Zero Motorcycles to develop and sell snowmobiles, not motorcycles.