Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow on track for best month in over 33 years

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BY THE NUMBERS

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, while set to open about 100 points lower Monday, remained on track for its best month since January 1987. With one day left in November, the Dow was up nearly 13% for the month. The fourth straight Monday of encouraging Covid-19 vaccine data gave U.S. stock futures a small boost. Moderna (MRNA) said new data confirmed its vaccine was more than 94% effective and safe.

Bitcoin bounced Monday to more than $18,600 after a weekend rebound. The world's biggest cryptocurrency hit a record high last Wednesday above $19,000 before plunging about 13% the next day and basically trading sideways Friday. Bitcoin, at its 2020 all-time high, logged a year-to-date gain of about 150%, emerging as a top gainer during the pandemic.

General Motors (GM) and Nikola (NKLA) on Monday announced a reworked, smaller agreement that keeps the fuel cell partnership intact but eliminates an equity stake in the start-up from the auto giant. The adjusted deal also nixes plans for building Nikola's electric pickup truck. Shares of Nikola sank more than 17% in the premarket. (CNBC)

Shares of IHS Markit (INFO) gained 7% in the premarket after the analytics firm agreed to be purchased by data giant S&P Global (SPCI) in a deal worth $44 billion, including debt, the biggest merger of 2020 in a year marked by the Covid-19 crisis. In fact, deal-making touched a record high in the September quarter, with more than $1 trillion worth of transactions. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Moderna plans to request emergency use authorization from the FDA for its coronavirus vaccine Monday. Shares of Moderna, the second drugmaker after Pfizer (PFE) to seek emergency clearance from U.S. regulators, soared 13% in Monday's premarket, a gain that would add to the stock's already 550% surge in 2020. The shots from Moderna and Pfizer employ a new approach to vaccines that uses genetic material to provoke an immune response. (CNBC)

* Novavax sees start of U.S. vaccine trial in coming weeks after second delay (Reuters)

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx hopes to brief Joe Biden's team Monday on America's response to the coronavirus as health officials express concern about how Thanksgiving gatherings might boost already spiking cases. In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Sunday that Christmas and New Year's restrictions will be necessary to stem to the spread of the virus. (CNBC)

* Congress returns with coronavirus aid, federal funding unresolved (AP)
* Los Angeles orders more restrictions as coronavirus surges (AP)
* NYC schools to start phased reopening in December, shifting away from blended learning (WNBC)

Despite the CDC warning against Thanksgiving travel, more than 9 million people took flights before and after the holiday. The U.S. has nearly 13.4 million total confirmed Covid-19 cases. The data around new daily cases, while elevated, has been choppy due to the holiday. (JHU)

The Trump administration is poised to add China's top chipmaker SMIC and national offshore oil and gas producer Cnooc to a blacklist of alleged Chinese military companies, according to a Reuters report. However, Trump won't be president when such an order would kick in. It will be up to President-elect Biden to decide whether to keep it.

* U.K. bans installation of Huawei 5G equipment from Sept. 2021 (CNBC)

Biden is expected to name Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse to chair the Council of Economic Advisers, three people familiar with the process confirmed to NBC News on Sunday. He also intends to nominate Adewale Adeyemo to be deputy Treasury secretary alongside Janet Yellen, according to NBC News.

* Biden will likely require walking boot for several weeks after breaking his foot (CNBC)
* Trump says his election challenges probably won't make it to the Supreme Court (Fox News)

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Sunday announced an all-female communications team, including Jennifer Psaki as White House press secretary. The incoming Biden administration plans to bring back the daily press briefing, which the Trump White House did away with due to a contentious relationship with the media. (CNBC)

Cyber Monday will put retail websites and warehouses to their biggest test yet. The industry is bracing for what is likely to be the largest day for digital sales ever recorded in the U.S., with spending expected to reach between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. That would represent growth of 15% to 35% from a year earlier. (CNBC)

* Black Friday shopping in stores craters over 50% during pandemic as e-commerce sales surge nearly 22% (CNBC)

Leading food delivery app DoorDash is looking to raise up to $2.8 billion in its IPO, giving it a valuation of up to $30 billion on a fully diluted basis, the company revealed in a new filing Monday. Its last private valuation was $16 billion as of June. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Shares of bank stocks, including Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS), edged lower in premarket trading after Morgan Stanley downgraded the group, favoring other consumer banks heading into 2021. The Wall Street firm downgraded Bank of America and JPMorgan from to "underweight" from "overweight" and Goldman Sachs to "underweight" from "equal weight."

Shares of messaging platform Slack (WORK) fell in premarket trading after Barclays downgraded the stock to "equal weight" from "overweight." The Wall Street firm said an acquisition from Salesforce (CRM) would cause limited upside for Slack shares.

Shares of United Airlines (UAL) rose in premarket trading after Raymond James upgraded the stocks to "outperform" from "market perform." The Wall Street firm said United is taking a different approach than its peers, which could lead to market share gains when the economic recovery occurs.

Shares of Apple (AAPL) rose in premarket trading after Loop Capital upgraded the technology stock to "buy" from "hold." The firm said it sees broad tailwind product and services growth. Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty also made bullish comments about Apple's "underappreciated" 5G iPhone cycle.

General Electric (GE) rose slightly in premarket trading after Barclays named the stock a "top pick." The firm said GE's free cash flow is set for material improvement over the next two years.

Shares of Palantir (PLTR), the newly public software company, rose nearly 4% in premarket trading, continuing its massive rally from last week. Palantir gained more than 50% last week, in the best week since its IPO.

WATERCOOLER

The NFL has ordered team facilities to be closed to in-person activities early this week in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19 among players and staffers. A memo from commissioner Roger Goodell, tweeted Friday night by the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, said in-person meetings are prohibited on Monday and Tuesday and must be held virtually. (USA Today)