Morning Brief

What to watch today: S&P 500 set for higher open after Monday's record close

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were higher Tuesday as Wall Street studied a crush of before-the-bell quarterly financial reports in the busiest week of earnings season. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average modestly declined for the third straight session but remained less than 1% from Wednesday's closing record. (CNBC)

Thirteen Dow components and 111 S&P 500 companies deliver earnings this week. Four Dow stocks — American Express, 3M, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon — are out Tuesday morning, with former Dow stock General Electric also reporting. Microsoft, also a Dow stock, leads this week's tech earnings Tuesday afternoon. Apple, Facebook and Tesla are out Wednesday. Alphabet releases results next week. (CNBC)

* J&J beats earnings expectations, to release Covid vaccine data 'soon'; stock up nearly 2% (CNBC)
* GE shares pop on better-than-expected industrial cash flow, rosy outlook (CNBC)

On today's economic calendar, The S&P/Case-Shiller report on home prices is out at 9 a.m. ET, with forecasts calling for an 8.8% jump in home prices for November in the 20-city index compared to a year earlier. The Conference Board's January consumer confidence index is out at 10 a.m. ET, with economists expecting a drop to an 88 reading from December's 88.6. (CNBC)

The short-squeeze mania around GameStop continued after the stock more than doubled at one stage Monday before closing 18% higher. In Tuesday's premarket trading, the video game seller was adding about 19% to the stock's year-to-date surge of over 300%. Short sellers are down $91 billion in January as GameStop leads squeeze in stocks they bet against. (CNBC)

Shares of Etsy (ESTY) popped this morning after Tesla (TSLA) chief Elon Musk sent a simple tweet about the e-commerce company. Etsy's stock rose 9% in premarket trading following Musk's tweet that said "I kinda love Etsy." The e-commerce company wasn't moving at all in the premarket prior to Musk's early morning call out. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Janet Yellen, a former Fed chief with a reputation as a consensus builder, has become the nation's first female Treasury secretary. Yellen was confirmed by the Senate on Monday. She's now in charge of the agency charged with supporting President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus program, which has already come under fire from Republicans. (CNBC)

Biden's Commerce secretary nominee on Tuesday will pledge to take "aggressive" action in response to trade practices from China. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo will tell the Senate Commerce Committee the U.S. must "take aggressive trade enforcement actions to combat unfair trade practices from China and other nations that undercut American manufacturing." (Reuters)

* Under Biden, China faces renewed trade pressure (AP)
* Biden walking a high wire with Russia ahead of Putin call (AP)

The U.S. could reach 1.5 million Covid vaccinations per day, Biden said Monday, topping his previously targeted pace of 1 million per day, which was nearly met already by the Trump administration. Biden has pledged to administer 100 million shots of coronavirus vaccine in his first 100 days in office. (CNBC)

* Regeneron's antibody cocktail effective in preventing Covid infection, study shows (Reuters)
* Covid vaccine developer CureVac plans five million share sale (Reuters)
* AstraZeneca denies its vaccine is less efficient in the elderly (CNBC)

Minnesota confirmed the first known U.S. case of the more contagious variant originally found in Brazil. There have already been cases in the U.S. of the strain found in Britain, but none of the variant discovered in South Africa. (CNBC)

* California reveals data used to lift stay-at-home order (AP)
* Dr. Fauci: Double-masking makes 'common sense' and is likely more effective (CNBC)

Senators on Tuesday will be sworn in as jurors in former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, which is expected to start the week of Feb. 8. The House on Monday delivered its impeachment article against Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month. Trump has not taken any responsibility for the Jan. 6 riot. (AP)

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster, easing a standoff with new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as the two negotiated a power-sharing agreement in the closely divided chamber. (AP)

Trump opened an office in Florida on Monday that will handle his duties as a former president. "The Office will be responsible for managing President Trump's correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities to advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration through advocacy, organizing, and public activism," a statement said. (Reuters)

Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google said it won't make contributions from its political action committee this election cycle to any Congress member who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election. Earlier this month, following the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol, the tech giant had paused all political contributions to reassess its policies toward political contribution. (Reuters)

Twitter (TWTR) has permanently banned My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell's account after he continued to perpetuate the baseless claim that Trump won the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Major retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and Kohl's (KSS) have said that they would stop carrying My Pillow's products. (AP)

BlackRock's (BLK) Larry Fink, in his annual letter to CEOs, is pushing out the goal posts on climate action, asking companies to "disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net-zero economy." He defines this as limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages and eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. (NY Times)

* Executives from Jeff Bezos to Bill Ford: Fighting climate change means job creation (CNBC)

Apollo Global Management's (APO) Leon Black paid child sex predator Jeffrey Epstein $158 million for financial advice from 2012 through 2017, a probe by a law firm retained by Apollo has found. The investment firm also said the investigation found no wrongdoing by Black or the company. Black plans to retire as CEO in July but remain chairman. (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) is planning to add 3,000 employees in its corporate ranks in the Boston area, one of a number of expansions of technology jobs in major American cities for the company. The online retailer said the jobs will be distributed across support teams from the Alexa smart speaker system to Amazon Web Services, Amazon Robotics and Amazon Pharmacy. (WSJ)

A major winter storm, moving east, are blanketing parts of the middle of the country with snow. Over the weekend, more than a foot of snow fell in Southern California's mountains. A storm buried northern Arizona in snow on Monday, while sending flurries to the outskirts of Las Vegas and Phoenix. (AP)

* Tornado hits in Alabama, killing one person and causing widespread damage (Weather Channel)

STOCKS TO WATCH

American Express (AXP), a Dow stock, reported fourth quarter earnings of $1.76 per share, compared to a consensus estimate of $1.31, with revenue matching Wall Street forecasts. Amex suffered a slump in travel and entertainment spending, although a jump in online spending helped offset that slide.

Dow component 3M (MMM) beat estimates by 23 cents with adjusted quarterly earnings of $2.38 per share, while revenue beat forecasts as well. 3M's results were helped by increased demand for its health care products such as its N95 masks.

Verizon (VZ), also a Dow stock, earned an adjusted $1.21 per share for the fourth quarter, 4 cents ahead of estimates, while revenue topped analysts forecasts. However, Verizon did see a smaller than expected increase in the number of paying phone subscribers.

Raytheon Technologies' (RTX) stock is gaining ground in pre-market trading, after it reported adjusted quarterly earnings of 74 cents per share. That was 4 cents above estimates, with revenue also beating analyst projections.

UBS (UBS) reported its best profit since 2006 during the fourth quarter, with the Zurich-based bank benefiting from a surge in trading volume as well as in lending to wealthy clients.

Apple (AAPL) hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio is leaving that job to oversee an unnamed new project for the company.

IAC/InterActiveCorp's (IAC) Vimeo video platform raised $300 million in a new founding round that values the business at $5 billion, up from a valuation of $2.75 billion in November.

Novartis (NVS) Novartis issued a cautious 2021 outlook, with the drug maker noting the impact regulatory delays for potential blockbuster drugs Leqvio and Zolgensma.

WATERCOOLER

Pizza Hut is jumping on the Detroit-style pan pizza trend as it looks to continue its turnaround in 2021 after last year's strong sales growth. Starting Tuesday, the Yum Brands (YUM) chain will be selling four different kinds of Detroit-style pizza for a limited time, with prices beginning at $10.99. (CNBC)