Here are five things you must know for Friday, July 12:
1. -- Stock Futures Point at More Wall Street Records
U.S. stock futures pointed higher on Friday, a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs, as investors continued to expect interest rate support from the Federal Reserve while betting on the underlying strength of the domestic economy.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday repeated his view that U.S. interest rates have room to go lower in the coming months, despite a surprise uptick in consumer prices in June, telling lawmakers on the Senate Banking committee that historic connections between low unemployment and rising wages and inflation are less evident in the changing U.S economy.
"We're learning that interest rates -- that the neutral interest rate -- is lower than we had thought and I think we're learning that the natural rate of unemployment is lower than we thought," Powell said. "So monetary policy hasn't been as accommodative as we had thought."
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 87 points, futures for the S&P 500 gained 7.10 points, and Nasdaq futures were up 24.75 points.
The Dow on Thursday rose 0.85% to close at a record 27,088.08, while the S&P 500 gained 0.23% to a record 2,999.91. The Nasdaq fell 0.08%, a day after closing Wednesday at a record 8,202.53.
Meanwhile, China's trade surplus with the United States hit a fresh record high over the first half of the year even as overall activity slowed amid the ongoing tariff disputes between the world's two biggest economies.
China's General Administration of Customs said the yuan-denominated U.S. trade surplus rose 12% over the six months ended in June to 954.81 billion yuan despite the impact of tariffs on about $250 billion in China-made goods put in place by the White House. In U.S. dollar terms, the first-half surplus was $140.48 billion, up 5% from the same period last year and nearly 20% higher from the first half of 2017.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Friday includes the Producer Price Index for June at 8:30 a.m. ET.
2. -- Trump Isn't a Fan of Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency
Donald Trump said Facebook's (FB) - Get ReportLibra virtual currency will have "little standing or dependability," and suggested that the social media giant would have to seek a banking charter to proceed with the project.
"If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations," Trump tweeted late Thursday.
Trump also said bitcoin and other cryptocurrences "can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity."
He said the U.S. dollar "is by far the most dominant currency anywhere in the World, and it will always stay that way."
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in testimony this week before Congress that he had "serious concerns" about how Facebook's Libra would operate.
Powell said "Libra raises serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, financial stability ... These are concerns that should be thoroughly and publicly addressed." Powell added that a working group had been created to help investigate the concerns.
3. -- Boeing's 737 MAX Program Manager to Retire
Boeing (BA) - Get Report has reassigned the head of its next airplane project to run the troubled 737 program, according to a memo seen by Reuters.
Boeing's 737 program manager, Eric Lindblad, will retire in a matter of weeks after roughly 12 months on the job, Kevin McAllister, chief executive of Boeing's commercial airplanes division, told employees in the memo. Lindblad has been with Boeing for about 34 years and had mentioned retiring last year, McAllister said.
Mark Jenks, who has been leading Boeing's potential new mid-market airplane project, will be taking Lindblad's place as the lead of the 737 program. Boeing's 737 MAX jets have been grounded across the globe following two fatal crashes of the aircraft. Recent reports have suggested the grounding could last until at least the end of the year.
Lindblad wasn't involved in the development of the MAX, according to The Wall Street Journal. He took charge last August as production of the plane was slowed by supply-chain problems including late delivery of fuselages and engines.
- Behind the Label: Flying Into the Future: A Boeing Timeline
4. -- Volkswagen to Inject $2.6 Billion Into Ford's Self-Driving Unit - Report
Germany's Volkswagen (VLKAY) will inject $2.6 billion into Ford's (F) - Get Report self-driving unit, Argo AI, at an overall valuation of $7 billion in the deal, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Friday.
Volkswagen will contribute $1 billion in capital and $1.6 in own business activities, and VW and Ford will be equal stakeholders of the venture, the source said. Ford became the majority shareholder of Argo in early 2017 after it invested $1 billion in the startup.
Ford and VW said Thursday they were expanding their global alliance and planned to announce details on a technology-sharing agreement on Friday.
The companies have scheduled a joint press conference at 8 a.m. in New York on Friday.
5. -- CannTrust Suspends Sales of Cannabis Products
CannTrust Holdings (CTST) - Get Report will suspend sales and shipments of all of its cannabis products and said it was appointing a committee of independent directors to investigate problems at the Canadian supplier of medical and recreational cannabis.
The sales and shipment suspension will continue "while Health Canada visits and reviews its Vaughan, Ontario manufacturing facility," the company said in a statement.
Canadian authorities earlier this week found the company's greenhouse facility in Pelham, Ontario to be "non-compliant." Canadian health regulations placed a hold on 5,200 kilograms of dried cannabis that was harvested from five unlicensed rooms at the location.
The company said "the impact of these matters on CannTrust's financial results are unknown until the regulatory review process is complete."
CannTrust shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange fell 12.86% in premarket trading on Friday to $2.71.
TheStreet's Jim Cramer, meanwhile, told his "Mad Money" audience on Thursday that he's had to reevaluate cannabis stocks.
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