Morning Brief

What to watch today: U.S. stocks set for sharp drop after two down days


Dow and S&P 500 futures pointed to declines of 1% at Thursday's open after back-to-back losses for the first time in three weeks. There were several factors putting a pall on the markets, including spiking coronavirus cases in Europe, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying a stimulus deal before next month's election was going to be tough, and EU nations lining up against Big Tech. Nasdaq futures tracked for an even bigger 1.5% drop at the start of trading on Wall Street. (CNBC)

* Mnuchin says he’ll give ground on virus testing in stimulus negotiations with Pelosi (CNBC)
* Walmart CEO Doug McMillon to Congress: Get a stimulus deal done (CNBC)

The Labor Department on Thursday morning reported a higher-than-expected 898,000 new filings for unemployment benefits last week. Initial jobless claims have remained at historically off-the-charts levels above 800,000 every week since mid-March. But that's down from the weekly coronavirus-driven peak of 6.6 million in late March. (CNBC)

Morgan Stanley on Thursday delivered third-quarter profit of $2.7 billion, or $1.66 per share, exceeding estimates. The Wall Street firm generated revenue of $11.7 billion in the quarter, 16% higher than a year earlier and a billion dollars more than what analysts had expected. Morgan Stanley was the last of the six biggest U.S. banks to report. (CNBC)

Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance, one of the Dow 30 components, said Thursday it expects profit to grow in single digits in 2021 after posting a better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher sales at U.S. pharmacies. (Reuters)

After the bell Wednesday, United Airlines reported a third-quarter loss of $8.16 per share, wider than the loss of $7.53 predicted by analysts. Revenue of $2.49 billion essentially matched estimates. United cut its daily cash burn in the quarter to $25 million a day, including debt and severance payments, down from an average of $40 million a day in the previous quarter.

Shares of Fastly (FSLY) dropped about 30% in Thursday's premarket trading after the provider of internet content delivery technology issued a revenue warning due to a reduction in business from its largest customer. TikTok was not specifically named, but Fastly has previously said the video sharing app is its largest customer. (CNBC)


London will move to a so-called high alert level starting midnight Friday, up from the current "medium" alert level. That would mean millions of people in Europe's richest city will soon be unable to meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in public. "We're at a critical moment in our fight against Covid-19 in London," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Thursday. (CNBC)

* Lockdowns should be 'very, very last resort' and can be avoided, WHO says (CNBC)
* Oxford scientists develop 5-minute Covid-19 antigen test (CNBC)
* Amazon resumed policies that penalize workers for taking too many breaks (CNBC)

Wells Fargo (WFC) fired more than 100 employees, alleging that they had defrauded the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program designed to help small businesses through the pandemic. The bank believes some of its staffers made "false representations in applying for coronavirus relief funds for themselves." (Reuters)

With Thursday's second debate scuttled, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will compete Thursday night for TV audiences in dueling town halls. According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Biden's lead over Trump narrowed to 11 percentage points. Biden and the Democrats raised a record-breaking $383 million in September for his presidential bid. (CNBC)

Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) on Wednesday limited the distribution of a New York Post story that claims to show "smoking gun" emails related to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son. The editorial decision to reduce the spread of the story, which provides minimal evidence, is a significant one for Facebook, which has long professed to stand for freedom of speech. (CNBC)

* Twitter follows Facebook on removing posts that deny the Holocaust (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk cut the price of the company's flagship sedan, the Model S, for the second time within one week on Wednesday. He disclosed the price reduction in a tweet, which said: "The gauntlet has been thrown down! The prophecy will be fulfilled. Model S price changes to $69,420 tonight!" (CNBC)


BioNTech's (BNTX) CEO told Bloomberg in an interview that the late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate remains on track, and that side effects are in line with those seen in earlier studies. BioNTech is developing the vaccine in partnership with Pfizer (PFE).

Regeneron (REGN) received FDA approval for its drug to treat the Zaire Ebola virus strain, the most deadly of the six known types.

Wells Fargo (WFC) fired more than 100 employees, alleging that they had defrauded the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program designed to help small businesses through the pandemic.

The New York Post reports the Justice Department is unlikely to approve any merger deal between AT&T's (T) DirecTV unit and rival satellite TV operator Dish Network. Sources told the Post any such deal would likely have to wait until faster 5G wireless service is more widely available in rural markets.

Following a month of mega deals, including linking with sports icon Michael Jordan, sports betting company DraftKings (DKNG) agreed to another media partnership; this time with AT&T's WarnerMedia property, Turner Sports.

Array Technologies (ARRY) begins trading on the Nasdaq today, after the solar equipment company's initial public offering priced at $22 per share. That was above the expected range of $19-$21 per share. The IPO was increased to 47.5 million shares from the initially planned 45 million.

Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) raised its 2020 revenue forecast, saying the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated demand for its high end chips used in smartphones and other electronic devices.

Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson (ERIC) won a contract to build key elements of a new 5G mobile network for Dutch telecom company KPN, which had said last year it would remove China's Huawei from consideration for that contract.

Alcoa (AA) lost $1.17 per share for its latest quarter, a smaller than expected loss. Revenue was also better than estimates. Alcoa's results were helped by stronger auto industry demand and higher aluminum prices.

Sleep Number (SNBR) reported quarterly earnings of $1.79 per share, well above estimates. The mattress retailer also saw revenue beat Wall Street forecasts.