Morning Brief

What to watch today: Wall Street set to bounce on first day of February

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BY THE NUMBERS

Stock futures pointed to a higher open, after all three major averages last week posted their worst weeks since October. Dow futures implied an opening gain of nearly 200 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also were higher as Wall Street appears to be withstanding concerns about the Reddit-sparked retail trading frenzy. In the month of January, the Dow dropped 2%; the S&P 500 fell 1%; and the Nasdaq rose 1.4%. (CNBC)

* Treasury yields fall as Republican senators call for scaled back stimulus (CNBC)

Silver futures were soaring by more than 10% in early trading, as the metals market appears to be the latest area impacted by Reddit-fueled trading. It represents the biggest move for silver futures since at least 2013. Silver and silver-related equities also posted strong gains late last week, which seems to be linked to interest from retail traders on Reddit's WallStreetBets. (CNBC)

Melvin Capital Management lost 53% in January as GameStop (GME) and other stocks the hedge fund had bet against saw massive rallies after retail traders piled into the heavily shorted names. Melvin Capital told CNBC it closed its short position in GameStop early last week after recording a big loss. GameStop shared are up more than 1,600% this year.

The government is out with construction spending at 10 a.m. ET. A busy week for earnings gets off to a somewhat slow start today, with Otis Worldwide (OTIS) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) out this morning. Cirrus Logic (CRUS), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), NXP Semiconductor (NXPI) and Warner Music Group (WMG) are out after today's closing bell. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS

Robinhood is continuing to place trading restrictions during today's session on GameStop and other stocks that have recently seen huge rallies and major volatility. Users of the popular brokerage app can only buy one share of GameStop and five options contracts. There are seven other stocks with various trading limits including AMC Entertainment (AMC), Koss Corp. (KOSS) and the retailer Express (EXPR). Robinhood's restricted list for today's session is smaller than the 50 names that had trading limitations Friday. (CNBC)

* Robinhood CEO explains to Elon Musk why his platform restricted trading last week (CNBC)

A group of 10 GOP senators are pitching a smaller Covid relief package to President Joe Biden, telling the newly sworn in Democrat in a letter Sunday that they "want to work in good faith" to address the pandemic. The Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, say their proposal provides "more targeted assistance" to the Americans who have the greatest needs. Biden, who has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package, has agreed to meet with the Republicans. (CNBC / NBC News)

A former Covid advisor to Biden said the U.S. should alter its vaccine distribution plans in order to administer more first doses and get ahead of a looming wave of infection. "The fact is that the surge that is likely to occur with this new variant from England is going to happen in the next six to 14 weeks," Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota told NBC's "Meet the Press." "If we see that happen, which my 45 years in the trenches tell me we will, we are going to see something like we have not seen yet in this country." (CNBC)

* Covid vaccines: Rollout in disarray in U.S. and abroad (NBC News)

Myanmar's military has detained senior politicians in the country, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, as part of a coup to seize power in the Southeast Asian nation. The military said its actions were required because the government did not attend to the military's claims of fraud in the country's November election. It also claimed its actions were necessary because the election was held during the Covid pandemic. (Associated Press)

* Russian prosecutors seek Navalny jail term as Kremlin tells U.S. to back off (Reuters)

In a discussion on the audio app Clubhouse, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said late Sunday he was a "supporter" of bitcoin. "I think bitcoin is really on the verge of getting broad acceptance by conventional finance people," said Musk, the world's wealthiest person. He added that he should have bought the cryptocurrency years ago at the urging of friends. Last week, Musk added "bitcoin" to his Twitter bio, which briefly helped push up the price of the digital coin. Bitcoin, which has had a massive rally in the last year, is trading at nearly $34,000 per coin. (CNBC)

Former President Donald Trump has selected two new attorneys to lead his defense team in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, which is set to begin Feb. 9. Lawyers David Schoen and Bruce Castor are now in charge of Trump's defense after an abrupt shakeup in the legal team. The Senate is considering whether to convict Trump on an article of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Reuters)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) are said to have discussed a merger last year as the pandemic took hold, in talks first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The discussions were preliminary and are not ongoing, but people familiar with the talks told the Journal they could resume in the future.

Moderna (MRNA) is seeking FDA permission to increase the number of COVID vaccine doses in a vial to 15 from 10, according to sources who spoke to CNBC. Such a move would help ease a manufacturing crunch for the drug maker.

Unilever (UL) is planning to sell a number of non-core beauty brands in the U.S. and Europe as part of an ongoing divestment program, according to a Bloomberg report. People familiar with the matter say the brands in question have combined annual sales of around $600 million, although no final decisions have been made.

CureVac (CVAC) will get manufacturing help from Bayer for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, in the latest collaboration between drug companies to boost vaccine manufacturing capacity. Bayer aims to produce 161 million doses of the vaccine, which is currently in late-stage testing.

Nio (NIO) reported deliveries of 7,225 vehicles in January, an increase of 352 percent over year-earlier levels for the China-based electric vehicle maker.

Stitch Fix (SFIX) was downgraded to "hold" from "buy" at Stifel in a valuation call. The online styling service's stock has risen 326 percent over the past year.

A judge dismissed most but not all of a shareholder lawsuit vs. General Electric (GE) over its past accounting practices and disclosures. The suit involved the company's long term care insurance portfolio as well as long-term service agreements in its power division.