Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Nov. 21:
1. -- Stock Futures Mixed Amid Questions About a U.S.-China Trade Agreement
U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed start for Wall Street Thursday as investors continued to question the chances of a near-term trade pact between Washington and Beijing.
U.S. lawmakers added to that concern after the House of Representatives late Wednesday voted 417 to 1 in favor of the "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act," following its Senate passage the previous day. The legislation, which aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong and which insulates the China-backed territory from tariffs, now goes to the White House for Donald Trump's signature. The White House has signaled that he would sign the measure.
The legislation, however, could make a so-called phase one trade agreement even more unlikely, given that China considers the text of the bill as meddling in its internal affairs. The president has just under two weeks to either sign or veto the bill, and the next round of tariffs on Chinese-made goods is set to kick in on Dec. 15.
China on Thursday demanded Trump veto the legislation. China also renewed a threat to take "strong countermeasures" if the bill becomes law.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4 points, futures for the S&P 500 were down less than a point, and Nasdaq futures slipped 3.50 points. Futures pared earlier losses after Chinese Vice Premier Liu He reportedly said he's "cautiously optimistic" about reaching an interim trade agreement with the U.S.
Stocks finished lower Wednesday following a report that said completion of a "phase one" U.S.-China trade pact could be delayed until next year.
The Dow finished down 113 points, or 0.4%, to 27,821.09 and the S&P 500 slipped 0.38%. The Nasdaq, which finished at a record closing high Tuesday, dropped 0.51%.
Earnings reports are expected Thursday from Macy's (M) - Get Report , Gap (GPS) - Get Report , Nordstrom (JWN) - Get Report , Splunk (SPLK) - Get Report , BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ) - Get Report and Williams-Sonoma (WSM) - Get Report .
The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey for November at 8:30 a.m. and Existing Home Sales for October at 10 a.m.
2. -- TD Ameritrade Surges on Report of Potential Charles Schwab Takeover
CNBC, citing sources close to the transaction, reported that Schwab was in talks to buy TD Ameritrade. The deal could be announced later Thursday.
The takeover speculation follows last month's move by Schwab to eliminate commissions for its retail clients, setting off a so-called "zero commissions" war in the online brokerage space that hammered the sector and caused major changes to earnings forecasts.
TD Ameritrade jumped 19.86% to $49.60 in premarket trading. Schwab rose 4.22%% to $46.64.
3. -- Trump Hints He May Exempt Apple From China Tariffs
Asked if the iPhone maker should be exempted from tariffs, the president said, "We're looking at that." He cited rival smartphone maker Samsung, based in Korea, which doesn't face tariffs. "We have to treat Apple on a somewhat similar basis as with Samsung," Trump said.
Apple shares were rising 0.52% in premarket trading Thursday to $264.57. The stock fell 1.16% on Wednesday to $263.19.
Apple "has the most to lose if this tariff war does not see a truce going forward and remains the poster child of this current trade situation," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. The analyst said an additional 10% tariff on China would "ultimately result in a 4% hit to (Apple's) EPS or roughly $0.50 in FY20 if the tariff ultimately went into effect."
4. -- Tesla to Unveil 'Cybertruck' on Thursday
The "Cybertruck," Tesla's base electric pickup truck version, is expected to price at roughly $50,000, lower than the $69,000 starting price for the R1T from newcomer Rivian.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he drew inspiration from the "Blade Runner" moviein designing the truck.
Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner said Musk has indicated the new vehicle "looks like an armored personnel carrier from the future," and is "unrecognizable from the trucks from the past 20-40 years." Rosner indicated there was a risk that the futuristic design "could carry the risk of not attracting traditional pickup buyers, leaving it a lower-volume niche product."
The truck will be unveiled at 11 p.m. ET on Thursday.
5. -- Tiffany Jumps on Report of Increased LVMH Takeover Bid
Tiffany (TIF) - Get Report rose 3.54% to $127.70 in premarket trading Thursday following a report that said French luxury icon LVMH Group (LVMUY) increased its takeover bid for the U.S. jewelry chain.
Reuters reported Thursday that LVMH, the company behind luxury labels such as Christian Dior, Fendi and Givenchy, has asked for access to confidential information from Tiffany as part of the due diligence linked to its proposed takeover, which it confirmed late last month.
The access would allow LVMH to boost its bid by $10 a share to $130, an offer that would value Tiffany at around $16 billion, the sources told Reuters.
Tiffany said in late October that it was "carefully reviewing the (LVMH) proposal, with the assistance of independent financial and legal advisors, to determine the course of action it believes is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders" and urged investors to take no action.