What to watch today: Stocks set to open higher after three-day drop

U.S. stock futures were higher heading into Friday's open, with Pfizer (PFE) rising after saying it could apply for FDA emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in late November. Dow stock Boeing (BA) jumped in premarket trading after the EU's aviation regulator on Bloomberg on Friday expressed satisfaction with changes the company has made to its grounded 737 Max jet. (CNBC)

Wall Street on Thursday logged a third straight session of losses. The Dow, down more than 300 points at its lowest stage, closed nearly 20 points lower. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, also much worse off earlier Thursday, finished down slightly. As of Thursday's close, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq held on to weekly gains, while the Dow dipped negative for the week. (CNBC)

The government said Friday September retail sales rose 1.9%, more than double expectations. The rosy retail sales report came one day after a higher-than-expected 898,000 new applications for unemployment benefits were filed last week. (CNBC)

Shares of Amazon and Apple rose in Friday's premarket, one day after closing lower. Amazon, on the heels of this week's two-day Prime Day event, launched its Holiday Dash sales event. Apple, one of the Dow 30 components, starts taking iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro preorders this morning. Preorders for the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max begin Friday, Nov. 6. (Press Releases)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Following dueling town halls that started at the same time on different networks, President Donald Trump campaigns in Georgia and Florida on Friday. Democratic nominee Joe Biden goes to Michigan, one day before Trump's visit Saturday. The debate that was supposed to happen Thursday night was canceled, but Trump and Biden are expected to hold their final presidential debate next week. (AP)

On Thursday night in Miami on NBC, Trump said he did not remember if he was tested for coronavirus before the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, less than a week before he announced he had Covid-19. Biden, in Philadelphia on ABC, refused to rule out increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, but said he would make his position clear by the Nov. 3 election. (CNBC)

* GOP pollster: Americans who are still undecided say they dislike Trump but fear Biden’s policies (CNBC)

While Biden leads Trump by double digits nationally, the former vice president's leads in several crucial swing states are slightly lower than Hillary Clinton's were at this point in the 2016 race, polls show. RealClearPolitics' gauge of polls in six crucial battleground states currently shows Biden with a 4.9-point lead over Trump. (CNBC)

The U.S. government, using a confidential process, has blocked a Chinese entity from purchasing a fertility clinic in San Diego, CNBC has learned. The action to protect a U.S. fertility clinic reveals previously unknown concerns about Chinese access to American medical data stored in fertility clinics, which can include families' most intimate biological and personal information.

* TikTok, under U.S. scrutiny, drives massive toy sales (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

VF Corporation (VFC), behind North Face and other apparel brands, reported a better-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit of 67 cents per share. Revenue also beat. VF said its results were helped by a 44% increase in digital revenue and improvement in China. VF also announced a dividend increase of a penny to 49 cents per share.

Bank of New York Mellon (BK) reported quarterly profit of 98 cents per share, 4 cents above estimates, with revenue also above forecasts. Provisions for credit losses fell to $9 million in the third quarter from $143 million in the second quarter.

CIT Group (CIT) and First Citizens BancShares (FCNCA) announced an all-stock merger which will see CIT stockholders receive 0.0620 shares of First Citizens for each share of CIT they now own. The combined entity will be the 19th largest U.S. bank as measured by assets.

Intuitive Surgical reported adjusted quarterly earnings of $2.77 per share, beating estimates. Revenue also exceeded forecasts. The company said that while procedures using its da Vinci surgical robot system have staged a significant rebound, a resurgence of Covid-19 in some areas has had an adverse impact on procedure volumes.

Schlumberger (SLB), an oilfield services company, reported adjusted quarterly profit of 16 cents per share, 3 cents above estimate. But revenue came in below projections. Results were impacted by reduced drilling and rig activity in North America, although profit margins improved from the prior quarter.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) raised its fiscal 2021 outlook, saying Covid-19 prompted an acceleration in the need for remote work solutions and that this trend has provided a significant opportunity for the company.

Ford Motor (F) reported a 25% year-over-year increase in China sales, the second straight quarterly increase after three years of decline.

Supermarket operator Albertsons (ACI) won a bankruptcy auction for more than two dozen Kings and Balducci's grocery stores with a bid of $96.4 million. A bankruptcy court must still approve the sale.

The fund at Blackstone (BX) that holds BioMed Realty Trust sold it to another Blackstone fund for $14.6 billion. The original fund would have been eventually required to exit its holdings and return all money to investors. But those investors wanted to continue to own BioMed, and the new fund can hold it indefinitely.

WATERCOOLER

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Marriott (MAR) and France's Accor are among the major hotel names that have launched or are considering monthly payment plans, as hotels try to attract restless remote workers ready for a change of scene with subscriptions. (CNBC)

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