1. Stocks to open mildly lower on dueling trade concern and Walmart optimism
U.S. stock futures were under some mild pressure Thursday morning on concerns about whether a “phase one” U.S.-China trade deal will actually get done. There are snags on a number of fronts, including Beijing's insistence that Washington roll back tariffs. Somewhat offsetting the trade uncertainty, Dow stock Walmart increased in the premarket after positive earnings. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closed at new record highs as Walt Disney stock surged over 7% and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's first day of congressional testimony provided support. Powell goes back to Capitol Hill on Thursday morning.
2. Walmart shares advance after retailer beats on earnings and boosts outlook
Shares of Walmart were gaining more than 3% after the retail giant beat estimates with third-quarter earnings. While revenue fell short, Walmart raised its full-year profit outlook ahead of the holiday shopping season. The company also said e-commerce sales were up 41%, thanks to “strong growth” in online grocery. A lot happened in Walmart's quarter from launching delivery of groceries directly to customer refrigerators in three cities to CEO Doug McMillon halting sales of ammunition used in military-type weapons and handgun ammunition as well as ending handgun sales in Alaska, marking a complete handgun exit.
3. Democratic presidential primary races gets another candidate
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Thursday he's joining the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. Patrick, 63, joins former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg in taking late steps to enter the campaign as alternatives to the leading candidates. Some Democrats have worried about the ability of contenders Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to defeat President Donald Trump next November. Patrick, governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015, carries his own baggage into presidential race as a managing director at investment firm Bain Capital.
4. Elizabeth Warren launching billionaire attack ads on CNBC
Sen. Warren is launching a new attack on the billionaires who have criticized her proposed taxes and policies with a new ad set to air on CNBC this week, according to a campaign aide. Titled “Elizabeth Warren Stands Up to Billionaires,” the ad takes aim at longtime investor Leon Cooperman, former TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. The ad will premiere Thursday on CNBC's “Squawk on the Street,” which airs at 9 a.m. ET, and Jim Cramer's “Mad Money,” which airs at 6 p.m. ET, in all New York and Washington, D.C., markets, the aide added. The ad will be part of a digital buy, as well.
5. Icahn buys an over $1 billion stake in HP and pushes merger with Xerox
Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has reportedly bought a $1.2 billion stake in HP Inc., and he's pushing for the personal computer maker's merger with printer maker Xerox. Icahn, who owns a 10.6% stake in Xerox, now owns a 4.24% stake in HP, The Wall Street Journal reports. HP told Reuters the company is aware of Icahn's investment and that it's committed to doing what is in the best interests of all HP shareholders. Xerox made a roughly $33 billion cash-and-stock offer for HP, a company more than three time bigger. Reuters reported last week. HP has since confirmed the bid, but it has not disclosed the offer price.
— Reuters contributed to this report.