Morning Brief

What to watch today: Wall Street set to pick up where 2020 left off

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BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures rose Monday after the Dow and S&P 500 closed at record highs and the Nasdaq just missed a record close Thursday, the last day of a tumultuous coronavirus-driven 2020. The Dow finished 2020 higher by more than 7.25%, while the S&P 500 surged over 16%. The Nasdaq was the big stock index winner last year, with a gain of more than 43%. (CNBC)

* Investors handicapping new year see similarities to 2010 recovery, 1999 risk binge (CNBC)

Bitcoin, the best performing asset class last year, surged 305% in 2020. While down about 10% early Monday, bitcoin popped above $34,000 for the first time ever a day earlier. The world's biggest cryptocurrency briefly dipped below $30,000 Monday, just two days after breaching that level for the first time. (CNBC)

Shares of Tesla (TSLA), which surged more than 740% over the past 12 months, were up about 2% in Monday's premarket, indicating an open above their all-time high of $718.72 per share on New Year's Eve. Tesla said Saturday it delivered 180,570 electric vehicles in the fourth quarter, beating its previous record and expectations. For all of 2020, Tesla delivered 499,550 vehicles, slightly missing guidance. (CNBC)

* Chinese electric car company Nio doubles deliveries in 2020 (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Two runoff elections Tuesday in Georgia will determine whether Republicans retain control of the Senate. The races are between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, as well as Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock. If Perdue and Loeffler win, the GOP would hold a 52 seat Senate majority that would allow them to block some of President-elect Joe Biden's agenda. (CNBC)

* Biden and Trump head to Georgia today in final push ahead of Senate runoffs (NBC News)
* Here are the issues at play in the Georgia Senate runoffs (CNBC)

President Donald Trump, in an extraordinary phone call Saturday, pressured Georgia's GOP secretary of state to overturn Biden's victory in the Peach State, according to audio obtained by NBC News. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resisted pressure from the president, who made veiled threats and asked Raffensperger "to find 11,780 votes" to change the result in Georgia. (CNBC)

On Wednesday, a group of Republican senators led by Texas' Ted Cruz will push to delay the certification of Biden's victory during a joint session of Congress. The effort is unlikely to alter the Electoral College tally, which Biden won 306-232. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his party not to object to the Electoral College results. (CNBC)

Total U.S. coronavirus cases as of Monday morning exceeded 20.6 million with at least 351,580 deaths. December was the deadliest month of the pandemic. The seven-day daily new U.S. case and death averages, while off their worst ever numbers, were still running at extremely elevated levels. Current hospitalizations hit another record high.

* Since Covid first emerged in China, the world battles its deadliest surge in cases yet (CNBC)
* Covid variant in South Africa is ‘more of a problem’ than UK’s, official says (CNBC)

The U.K. on Monday started rolling out the two-dose coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Unlike ones from Moderna and the Pfizer and BioNTech alliance, AstraZeneca's vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions for at least six months. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has not been approved in the U.S. (CNBC)

The head of the U.S. government's Covid vaccine program said Sunday that health officials are exploring the idea of giving a major group of Americans half volume doses of Moderna's vaccine to speed up immunizations. Only about 4.2 million shots of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines were administered as of Jan. 2, according to the CDC. (CNBC)

A judge in Britain ruled on Monday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, one of the world's most high-profile whistleblowers, cannot be extradited to the United States. The U.S. is expected to appeal the decision. Assange is wanted in the U.S. over the 2010 and 2011 publication on WikiLeaks of classified military documents and diplomatic cables. (CNBC)

More than 200 Google employees have come together to form the Alphabet Workers Union at of time of increasing disagreements with company executives. News of the union was announced Monday in a New York Times op-ed by two employees, Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw, who serve on the board of the Alphabet Workers Union as executive chair and vice chair, respectively.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) on Monday began offering a cauliflower rice option to attract consumers trying to comply with their New Year's resolutions. The rice substitute is made with grilled cauliflower, cilantro, lime and salt and will be available in U.S. and Canadian restaurants for a limited time. The option will cost an additional $2 for tacos, burritos or bowls. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Magellan Health (MGLN) agreed to be acquired by Centene (CNC) for $95 per share in cash or $2.2 billion. The deal represents a nearly 15% premium for Magellan shareholders over its most recent closing price. Shares of Magellan jumped more than 12% in premarket trading.

FLIR Systems (FLIR),a maker of thermal imaging cameras and sensors, will be bought by industrial instruments and software maker Teledyne Technologies (TDY) for about $8 billion in cash and stock. The deal values FLIR at about $56 per share, compared to FLIR's Thursday close of $43.83. FLIR shares soared 22% in the premarket.

Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) offered to buy the part of Brookfield Property Partners (BPY) that it does not already own for $16.50 per share or stock, or $5.9 billion. Brookfield Property shares leaped 15% in the premarket.

Casino operator MGM Resorts (MGM) offered $11 billion to buy Britain's Entain, the parent of betting firm Ladbrokes. However, Entain said the bid significantly undervalues its business.

Investor Carl Icahn sold more than half his stake in nutrition products maker Herbalife (HLF) back to the company, and he's giving up his firm's seats on Herbalife's board. The sale of about $600 million in stock reduces Icahn's Herbalife stake to about 6%. He's estimated to have made more than $1 billion on his Herbalife investment. Herbalife's shares slid 6.3% in the premarket.

Roku (ROKU) is in advanced talks to buy Quibi's content catalog, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Quibi, a short-form video streaming service founded by movie industry veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg, is in the process of winding down its operations. Roku's shares were up 2.7% in the premarket.

Verizon (VZ) struck a new distribution deal with local TV station operator Hearst Television, avoiding a blackout of Hearst's stations for customers of Verizon's FIOS service.

Shareholders of Peugeot's parent, PSA Groupe, have approved the $52 billion merger with Fiat Chrysler (FCAU). Fiat Chrysler shareholders are set to vote today. That would clear the way for completion of the deal by the end of March. Shares of Fiat Chrysler rose 1.9% in premarket trading.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) CEO Ed Bastian told employees in a letter that he expected the airline's cash flow to be positive by the spring. He sees the difficulties experienced in 2020 continuing as the new year begins, followed by a rebound in air travel as vaccines become widely available.

WATERCOOLER

Powerball's jackpot has jumped to $410 million for Wednesday night's drawing. The top prize for Mega Millions is $432 million, with the next drawing set for Tuesday night. If you beat the odds and win, here are some things to consider before claiming your winnings. (CNBC)