What to watch today: Dow set to fall despite U.K. Covid vaccine approval

Stock futures indicated a lower open, after Wall Street started December on a strong note Tuesday. Dow futures implied an opening decline of almost 120 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also were lower. The S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq posted record closing highs Tuesday, rising 1.1% and 1.3%, respectively. The 30-stock Dow gained 185 points, or 0.6%, hitting an intraday high during the session. (CNBC)

* European markets dip slightly, tracking mixed global sentiment; G4S up 8% (CNBC)

The U.K. granted approval to Pfizer (PFE) and German partner BioNTech's (BNTX) Covid-19 vaccine, a significant milestone in the effort to end the devastating coronavirus pandemic. Rollout of the vaccine is set to begin next week, the British government said, with health-care workers and elderly people in long-term care facilities set to be first in line to receive the shot. (CNBC)

ADP's monthly report on private sector jobs showed that a fewer-than-expected 307,000 new positions were added at U.S. companies last month, the slowest pace of growth since July. The ADP data comes ahead of the government's weekly jobless claims report Thursday and its monthly employment report for November on Friday. (CNBC)

Shares of Dow component Salesforce (CRM) were down over 5% after the company disclosed a weak quarterly earnings guidance and announced an acquisition of chat software developer Slack (WORK) for more than $27 billion. Salesforce's deal for Slack is the largest in its 21-year history and helps further solidify its position in the enterprise software space. (CNBC)

* Salesforce's Marc Benioff on goal to double revenue — 'Slack changes everything' (CNBC)

Discount retailer Five Below (FIVE), Calvin Klein-owner PVH (PVH), and cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike (CRWD) are among the companies set to report earnings today. (CNBC)

Mortgage applications to buy a home rose 9% last week compared with the prior week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally and holiday adjusted index. Applications to purchase a house were a stunning 28% higher from a year earlier. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

An advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended health-care workers and nursing home residents be the first groups of people in America to receive a coronavirus vaccine after it receives regulatory clearance. The Food and Drug Administration has a meeting set for Dec. 10 to consider the emergency use application from Pfizer. Biotech firm Moderna (MRNA) also has applied for the same authorization with the U.S. regulatory agency. (CNBC)

* Roche's coronavirus antibody test gets emergency use authorization from the U.S. (CNBC)

According to a senior Trump administration official, pending CDC guidelines will allow people who have come in contact with someone infected with coronavirus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or seven days if they receive a negative test result. That's down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic.

* Nursing homes create ‘perfect storm’ for Covid outbreaks as cases and deaths surge again (CNBC)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned America could see a "surge upon a surge" of Covid-19 cases following Thanksgiving and ahead of holiday gatherings in December. Fauci's remarks Tuesday came as the U.S. was already seeing record-high coronavirus hospitalizations. There are nearly 99,000 people currently in hospitals with Covid-19, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project, which is run by The Atlantic. (CNBC) |

* U.S. has spent billions stockpiling ventilators, but many won't save critically ill Covid-19 patients (Reuters)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., shot down a proposed bipartisan coronavirus stimulus package, as the months-long stalemate over additional pandemic relief in Washington persists. The roughly $908 billion plan, assembled by bipartisan members of the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-held House, included funds for small business aid and a $300 per week supplemental unemployment. McConnell said he wanted to approve a "targeted relief bill" this year. (CNBC)

* Release of PPP loan recipients data reveals troubling patterns (NBC News)

President-elect Joe Biden said he does not plan to immediately lift elevated tariffs on Chinese imports that had been put in place by outgoing President Donald Trump. In a New York Times interview, Biden said he wanted to develop a "coherent" approach that includes U.S. allies as part of his China strategy. Biden also said he wants to review the phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China that Trump inked earlier this year before taking any action on its provision. (CNBC)

* GOP objects to Biden nominees, a sign of what's to come (AP)

The Department of Justice has not found evidence of large-scale ballot fraud that would reverse President-elect Joe Biden's projected win over President Donald Trump in the election, Attorney General William Barr said in an interview with The Associated Press.

* DOJ investigating potential White House ‘bribery-for-pardon’ scheme (NBC News)
* Trump has discussed possibility of pardons for family members, sources say (NBC News)

Walmart (WMT) is ditching shipping minimums for its membership program, Walmart+, a move that likely helps the retail giant in its quest to challenge Amazon (AMZN) Prime. Now, Walmart+ members will be able to free next-day and two-day shipping, even for orders of just one item. The company typically required order values over $35 in order to quality for free shipping. (CNBC)

* Elon Musk warns Tesla employees the stock will be crushed if they don't control costs (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Drugmaker Merck (MRK) announced it sold its equity investment in Moderna (MRNA), following the biotech stock's massive move higher in 2020. Moderna shares have gotten a boost from their developments in the search for a coronavirus vaccine and are up more than 600% in 2020.

A Morgan Stanley analyst downgraded Palantir Technologies (PLTR) to "underweight" from "equal weight," noting that "the risk/reward paradigm shifts decidedly negative for the shares" after surging since its IPO "with very little change in the fundamental story." Palantir shares dropped 10% in the premarket.

Thermo Fisher (TMO) was initiated by Goldman Sachs with a "buy" rating, with the bank calling the company "a core, long term holding due to a durable growth algorithm driven by sector leading exposure to the fast-growing BioPharma and Clinical/Diagnostics end markets and a revenue mix that is over 75% recurring."

Verizon (VZ) shares rose 0.6% after MoffettNathanson upgraded them to "buy" from "neutral," citing the potential for higher average revenue per user in 2021. The firm also raised its price target on Verizon to $66 per share, up from $59 per share. The new target implies a 12-month upside of 9%.

An analyst at Citi hiked his 12-month price target on Disney (DIS) to a Street high of $175 per share, implying a 17% upside from Tuesday's close of 149.44 per share. "We continue to expect a measured recovery within Disney's core businesses … At the same time, given the continued momentum of Disney's streaming apps, we are raising our outlook for the firm's DTC segment," the analyst said.

WATERCOOLER

At long last, it is game day for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens after their Week 12 matchup had been pushed back three times due to Covid-19 cases. Kickoff between the undefeated Steelers and Ravens is set for 3:40 p.m. in Pittsburgh. The game was originally supposed to be played nearly a week ago on Thanksgiving. (AP)

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