What to watch today: Stock futures turn positive in continuing tech stock bounce

U.S. stock futures turned positive Thursday morning, one day after a tech-led bounce clawed back some of the carnage of the previous three sessions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 440 points, or 1.6%, on Wednesday, but remained nearly 5.5.% away from February's record highs. The S&P 500 jumped 2%, but still 5% below last week's record highs. The Nasdaq soared 2.7%, though it remained over 7% below last week's record highs. (CNBC)

Shares of Apple (AAPL), a Dow stock and a major force in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, were steady in the premarket after jumping almost 4% on Wednesday. However, Apple was still off about 14% from last week's record highs. Meanwhile, Apple’s product-launch extravaganza, set for Tuesday, will be muted this year because of Covid-19. (CNBC)

The government said Thursday morning there were 884,000 new filings for unemployment benefits for the week ending Sept. 5, higher than estimates of 850,000 and equal to the revised initial jobless claims number in the prior week, which ushered in a change in methodology from the Labor Department to address seasonal factors. (CNBC)

Citigroup (C) CEO Michael Corbat, after 37 years at the bank, will retire in February. Jane Fraser, head of Citi's Global Consumer Banking unit, will succeed Corbat. She will become the first woman CEO of a megabank. Fraser has been at Citi for 16 years. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Donald Trump said he wanted to publicly downplay the threat of the coronavirus even as his advisors warned him about the dangers of the disease, according to Bob Woodward's forthcoming second book on the Trump presidency, "Rage." CNN published audio of the journalist's March 19 interview with the president for the book. Trump is heard saying, "I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic."

* Woodward book: Kim Jong Un told Trump about killing his uncle (AP)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden blasted Trump after the Woodward revelations about Covid-19. "It's beyond despicable. It's a dereliction of duty. It's a disgrace," the former vice president said Wednesday at a campaign event in Michigan. Trump, who plans to visit swing state Michigan on Thursday, addressed the book Wednesday at a White House event, saying, "You cannot show a sense of panic or you're going to have bigger problems than you ever had before."

* Most swing-state voters give Trump poor marks on keeping Americans safe, CNBC/Change Research poll finds

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is "optimistic" that Republicans would deliver strong support for the GOP's $500 billion slimmed-down Covid-19 rescue package in Thursday's procedural vote. Democrats said the GOP bill is far too small and leaves out important priorities, including funding for state and local governments and more generous jobless benefits. Both sides have been in a stalemate over how to craft further pandemic stimulus. (AP)

AstraZeneca (AZN) said it should know before the end of the year whether its experimental Covid-19 vaccine is effective, if it can resume clinical trials soon. Late-stage trials are currently suspended while an independent safety committee investigates an illness suffered by a trial participant. (Reuters)

* Scientists question 'strange' data in Russian coronavirus vaccine trial after 'unlikely' patterns (CNBC)

Quest Diagnostics (DGX), the medical lab operator, raised its full-year revenue and profit outlook, as testing volumes recover faster than anticipated. Quest now sees full-year adjusted earnings of $7.42 to $8.92 per share, up from the prior range of $5.66 to $7.66 a share. The current consensus estimate is $8.51 a share.

The number of empty rental apartments in Manhattan nearly tripled compared with last year, as more New Yorkers fled the city during the pandemic. There were more than 15,000 empty rental apartments in Manhattan in August, according to a report from property company Douglas Elliman and real estate consultancy Miller Samuel. (CNBC)

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will open the NFL's season against the Houston Texans on Thursday before a crowd of just 17,000 socially distanced hometown fans. That's about 22% of Arrowhead Stadium's capacity due to coronavirus safety precautions. Another change, ushered in by the nationwide push for racial justice following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, headdresses and face paint are being banned. (AP)

As companies across the country face heightened scrutiny of their record on racial diversity, Target (TGT) pledged Thursday to increase representation of Black employees across its workforce by 20% over the next three years. The big-box retailer's workforce of nearly 350,000 employees skews White, particularly among its top executives. (CNBC)

* Mall owners Simon, Brookfield set to rescue JC Penney from bankruptcy in $800 million deal (CNBC)

Beijing-based ByteDance is speaking with the U.S. government about possible solutions that may allow it to retain some ownership of the U.S. operations of TikTok, while satisfying regulators in both China and the U.S. Those possibilities include handing over operational control of TikTok data to a U.S. tech company, while potentially still holding on to some ownership of assets, a person familiar with the process told CNBC.

* Huawei says its own operating system HarmonyOS will come to smartphones next year (CNBC)

Trump added 20 names to his list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court and called on Biden to do the same, renewing a tactic he first employed during the 2016 campaign. Among the additions are Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. (CNBC)

California already has seen a record 2.5 million acres burn and it's only now is entering what traditionally is the most dangerous time for wildfires. Labor Day weekend brought record-breaking temperatures across the state that exacerbated what already are drought conditions in a large swath of the state. (AP)

* Bay Area skies turn an eerie orange due to wildfires (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

RH (RH) reported quarterly profit of $4.90 per share, easily beating the consensus estimate of $3.41 a share. The parent of Restoration Hardware's revenue also beat estimates, with the luxury furniture retailer issuing an upbeat outlook and saying it now sees a path to 25% adjusted operating margins. It had previously projected its long term margins at about 20%. The stock was up about 17% in the premarket.

GameStop (GME) reported a quarterly loss of $1.40 per share, wider than the $1.13 per share loss that Wall Street analysts had predicted. The videogame retailer's revenue also missed forecasts, although its digital sales increased nine-fold over the year before. Comparable-store sales were down 12.7%. The stock was down about 9%.

Virtusa (VRTU), the IT services company, agreed to be bought by investment firm Baring Private Equity Asia for $2 billion in cash, or $51.35 per share. Virtusa had closed Wednesday at $40.50 per share. The stock was up about 25% in the premarket.

Kansas City Southern (KSU) rejected a roughly $20 billion takeover bid from a group of investors, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. The paper said the rail operator had been offered $208 per share by Global Infrastructure Partners and a unit of Blackstone (BX), but felt that the bid undervalued the company. The Journal said the two sides are not currently in talks.

Data center provider Equinix (EQIX) said it was investigating a security incident involving ransomware on some of its internal systems. Equinix said its data centers and service offerings remain fully operational, and that the incident has had no impact on customer operations since they operate their own equipment within Equinix data centers.

Boeing (BA) agreed to an independent review of its compliance and ethics practices centering on its behavior in bidding to win a lunar lander contract from NASA and the Air Force, according to an agreement between the parties seen by Reuters.

Amazon (AMZN) elected retired General Keith Alexander to its board of directors. Gen. Alexander is the former commander of U.S. Cyber Command as well as NSA director, and is the founder and co-chief executive of IronNet Cybersecurity.

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