Morning Brief: House set to vote on GOP tax-cut plan

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What to watch today

In the final full trading week of 2017, Tuesday will present investors with some notable corporate earnings, scant economic data, and bring markets one day closer to tax reform becoming law.

Shipping giant FedEx (FDX) will report earnings after the bell on Tuesday, with this report potentially giving markets some color on the holiday shopping season and its read on the global economy. Other major earnings announcements expected Tuesday include Darden Restaurants (DRI), Micron (MU), Carnival (CCL), and Red Hat (RHT).

On the economics side, the only major data expected Tuesday will be the November reading on housing starts and building permits. This data will follow Monday’s check on homebuilder sentiment, which showed America’s homebuilders feel as good as they have in 18 years, topping all confidence measures taken during the housing bubble.

Markets will also be tracking the progress of tax reform in Washington, D.C., with the Republican tax cut package set for a vote in the House on Tuesday, which could clear the way for President Donald Trump to sign the bill into law later this week.

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Top news

House GOP unveils $81B disaster relief package: House Republicans on Monday unveiled an $81 billion disaster aid package to help hurricane-ravaged communities and states hit by wildfires, almost double the amount requested by President Donald Trump. GOP leaders promised a vote this week on the measure, which would bring the total provided in response to this year’s devastating round of hurricanes to more than $130 billion — exceeding the cost to taxpayers of Hurricane Katrina. [AP]

Fed’s dots have lost the plot as economists puzzle over outlook: The Federal Reserve published a fresh set of economic forecasts last week covering the next three years. Economists have been trying to make sense of the 2018 outlook ever since. Here’s the conundrum. Fed officials raised their forecast for growth by four tenths of a percentage point for next year, to 2.5%. That’s comfortably above the 1.8% rate they estimate the economy can sustain in the long run. [Bloomberg]

Virgin Hyperloop One rebuffs a sale and takes $50 million lifeline:  Virgin Hyperloop One, a beleaguered startup trying to develop a futuristic, tube-based transportation system, got a lifeline in the form of $50 million from two foreign backers. The board approved the deal last week as the company was running low on cash and attempting to navigate a scandal involving co-founder Shervin Pishevar, who was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct [Bloomberg]

Activist Starboard Value buys 9.9% stake in Cars.com:  Activist investor Starboard Value LP bought a 9.9% stake in Cars.com Inc. on the belief the stock is undervalued by a market that is betting heavily against it and ignoring the potential for a sale. Starboard sees potential for the online auto marketplace to boost margins when it no longer has to share a large portion of its sales with the media companies that once controlled it, according to sources. [The Wall Street Journal]

Overstock’s $250 million ICO aims to disrupt Wall Street trading: Overstock.com’s (OSTK) CEO Patrick Byrne wants to redraw an essential way Wall Street operates using bitcoin technology. On Monday, Byrne, who allowed Overstock to accept bitcoin starting in 2014, launched an initial coin offering (ICO) for tokens for a new trading platform called tZero. Byrne says it will be the future of trading. [Yahoo Finance]

Emergency crews work at the scene of a Amtrak train derailment on December 18, 2017, 2017 in DuPont, Washington. At least six people were killed when a train car plunged from a bridge closing the I-5 southbound. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Emergency crews work at the scene of a Amtrak train derailment on December 18, 2017, 2017 in DuPont, Washington. At least six people were killed when a train car plunged from a bridge closing the I-5 southbound. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

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