Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Oct. 18:
1. -- Stocks Falter on Hawkish Fed Minutes
U.S. stock futures declined on Thursday, Oct. 18, after a hawkish set of minutes from last month's Federal Reserve meeting cemented the case for near-term interest rate hikes, pulling both the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields higher.
Federal Reserve officials believe the best way to encourage a steady U.S. economy is to raise interest rates gradually, according to minutes of the central bank's Sept. 25-26 policy meeting that were released Wednesday. The Fed boosted rates for the third time this year last month to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%, and the minutes from the meeting suggested that Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues won't be swayed by criticism from Donald Trump, who has said the central bank was moving "too fast" to tighten policy and was threatening the health of the U.S. economy.
The Fed said a gradual approach to rate hikes, set against accelerating inflation and robust growth, would "balance the risk of tightening monetary policy too quickly, which could lead to an abrupt slowing in the economy and inflation moving below the committee's objective, against the risk of moving too slowly, which could engender inflation persistently above the objective and possibly contribute to a buildup of financial imbalances."
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 79 points, futures for the S&P 500 declined 10.50 points, and Nasdaq futures tumbled 35.50 points.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey for October at 8:30 a.m., and Leading Indicators for September at 10 a.m.
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2. -- American Express and PayPal Highlight Thursday's Earnings Calendar
Travelers Cos. (TRV) reported Thursday third-quarter core earnings of $2.54 a share, topping forecasts of $2.26. Net written premiums in the quarter rose 6% to $7.06 billion and beat expectations.
Danaher Corp. (DHR) reported third-quarter profit of $1.10 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $1.08. The science and medical technology company said it expects fiscal 2018 adjusted earnings of $4.49 to $4.52 a share. Analysts were calling for $4.49.
Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) posted third-quarter earnings of $1.06 a share, 2 cents above analysts' estimates.
3. -- Facebook Believes Mega-Hack Was Conducted by Spammers - Report
Preliminary findings suggested the hackers weren't affiliated with a nation-state, the people told the Journal. Internal researchers believe the people behind the attack were a group of Facebook and Instagram spammers that present themselves as a digital marketing company, the Journal reported. Their activities were previously known to Facebook's security team, the people familiar with the investigation told the Journal.
The social media giant said last week that the hack of 50 million users only materially impacted 30 million accounts. Users' tokens, or keys to the accounts, were accessed, but only 30 million users had their tokens stolen. "Of the 50 million people whose access tokens we believed were affected, about 30 million actually had their tokens stolen," Facebook wrote in a blog post.
Facebook has called the incident the breach biggest security breach in its history.
4. -- Novartis to Buy Cancer Drugmaker Endocyte for $2.1 Billion
The deal values the developer of cancer treatments at $24 a share, a 54% premium to Endocyte's closing price of $15.56 on Wednesday. Endocyte shares soared 50.1% in premarket trading on Thursday to $23.35.
Novartis will get its hands on Endocyte's promising Lu-PSMA-617, a radioligand treatment that targets prostate cancer by attaching radioactive Lutetium to cancerous cells.
"The proposed acquisition of Endocyte builds on our growing capability in radio-pharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business," said Novartis Oncology CEO Liz Barrett in a statement. "We are also excited about the opportunity to break into the prostate cancer arena with a near-term product that has the potential to make a meaningful impact for patients in great need of more options."
5. -- Constellation Brands CEO Sands to Step Down
Rob Sands will step down as CEO of Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) , the parent company of Corona Beer, Robert Mondavi wines and other popular alcoholic drinks.
The move came just hours after his company celebrated Canada's legalization of cannabis. Constellation in August invested $4 billion in Canadian weed leader Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC) , lifting its stake to 38% from 9.9%.
Constellation tapped current President Bill Newlands to succeed Sands, who will leave his post in March.
Newlands will be the first non-Sands to run the company, which was founded in 1945 by Rob's father, Marvin. Rob Sands' elder brother Richard ran the company from 1993 to 2007.
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