Here are five things you must know for Friday, Oct. 18:
1. -- Stock Futures Mixed as China's Growth Slowdown Deepens
U.S. stock futures were mixed Friday after China posted its weakest quarterly economic growth rate in nearly three decades, re-centering focus on the fate of ongoing trade talks between Washington and Beijing.
China's growth rate in the third quarter was 6%, the slowest pace since the first quarter in 1992.
With slumping exports, halted manufacturing and eroding domestic demand, China faces significant headwinds in the coming months, regardless of the outcome of trade negotiations with the United States. China, the world's second-largest economy, may look to add further monetary and financial stimulus to shore up growth and avoid deterioration in the country's labor market.
"More aggressive stimulus can be expected," said Bill Adams of PNC Financial Services Group.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5 points, futures for the S&P 500 rose 1.60 points, and Nasdaq futures fell 3 points.
Stocks finished with mild gains Thursday following solid earnings reports from Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) and Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report) and after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Britain reached a tentative Brexit agreement with the European Union.
The Dow gained 24 points, or 0.09%, to 27,026, the S&P 500 rose 0.28%, and the Nasdaq advanced 0.40%.
2. -- Coca-Cola, Schlumberger and American Express Report Earnings
Coca-Cola (KO - Get Report) said it sees improving earnings for this year, despite stiffer headwinds from a stronger U.S. dollar, as growth of its trademark soft drink, as well as zero-sugar and healthier options, drove solid third-quarter sales growth.
The economic calendar Friday in the U.S. includes Leading Indicators for September at 10 a.m. ET. Federal Reserve officials, including Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan and Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida have speaking engagements Friday.
3. -- AT&T Reportedly Discussing Issues Raised by Elliott Management
AT&T (T - Get Report) is in talks with Elliott Management to resolve the activist investor's campaign for change at the telecommunications and media giant, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
The two sides have been talking since Elliott disclosed a stake in AT&T five weeks ago and pressed the company to cut costs and make management changes, among other things, to boost its stock price. Elliott said its proposals, which include a strategic review of assets that could be sold or spun off, could lift the stock by at least 60% by the end of 2021.
AT&T shares were rising 0.93% in premarket trading to $38.16. The stock has risen 32.48% year to date and 16.34% over the past 52 weeks.
AT&T and Elliott could reach an agreement as soon as this month, though the talks could also fall apart, the people told the Journal.
4. -- GM Workers to Remain on Strike Until Contract Vote Is Taken
The roughly 49,000 General Motors (GM - Get Report) workers on strike will remain there for at least another week until they vote on a tentative contract with the biggest automaker in the United States.
Factory-level officials from the United Auto Workers union voted to recommend the agreement to members at a daylong meeting in Detroit on Thursday. But they also voted not to return to factories unless members approve the deal, according to the Associated Press.
Union members have been on strike since Sept. 16. It's estimated the strike has cost General Motors nearly $2 billion.
Earlier this week, the UAW reached a tentative agreement to end the strike. The deal would give workers a mix of pay raises, lump sum payments and an $11,000 signing bonus. In return, the contract allows GM to proceed with factory closures in Lordstown, Ohio; Warren, Michigan; and near Baltimore.
5. -- Saudi Aramco Again Delays IPO
Saudi Aramco again postponed the launch of its initial public offering, the latest setback in what would be the world's largest-ever stock market listing.
The state oil giant, which had been preparing to sell shares on Oct. 20, will delay the IPO until December or January, two people familiar with the matter said told The Wall Street Journal.
"A few things needed to be fine tuned including financial figures for the third quarter," a senior Saudi official told the Journal.
According to Bloomberg, the postponement will allow the Wall Street bankers advising Aramco to incorporate third-quarter results into their pre-IPO assessments of the company. The banks are still struggling to meet the $2 trillion valuation the company is seeking, said a person briefed on the situation.