Apple, Beyond Meat, Goldman Sachs, Trump and a 'Monster' Trade Pact - 5 Things You Must Know Wednesday

Stock futures decline modestly ahead of the formal signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement; Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and UnitedHealth report earnings; Donald Trump calls on Apple to unlock iPhones used in shooting at naval air station.
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Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, Jan. 15:

1. -- Stock Futures Fall as Trump Prepares to Sign Trade Pact With China

Stock futures declined modestly Wednesday ahead of the formal signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement amid questions over the removal of existing tariffs and the willingness of both sides to follow-through with commitments linked to the accord.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued a joint statement Tuesday pushing back on speculation that the initial agreement will result in the rollback of tariffs already in place.

"There are no other oral or written agreements between the United States and China on these matters, and there is no agreement for future reduction in tariffs. Any rumors to the contrary are categorically false," the statement said.

With the tariffs in place, and China's economy slowing, the ability of Beijing to add more than $200 billion in purchases of American-made goods - from agricultural products to services - remains another question ahead of the signing of what Donald Trump called a "beautiful monster" of a deal. The signing ceremony is expected later Wednesday at the White House.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 53 points, futures for the S&P 500 slipped 2.90 points and Nasdaq futures were down 3.75 points.

The Dow ended slightly higher Tuesday but trimmed gains following a report that said existing tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese-made goods would remain in place until after the 2020 presidential election. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed closer Tuesday.

2. -- Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and UnitedHealth Report Earnings

UnitedHealth  (UNH) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, and reiterated its full-year profit forecast as Optum sales once again paced growth for the country's biggest managed care company. 

Bank of America  (BAC) - Get Report earned 74 cents a share in the fourth quarter, beating analysts' estimates by 6 cents, as loan growth offset narrowing interest rate margins at the consumer-focused lender.

Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Report posted weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings under its new reporting format, thanks in part to a litigation charge that clouded solid revenue.

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The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday include the Producer Price Index for December at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey for January at 8:30 a.m., Oil Inventories for the week ended Jan. 10, and the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" at 2 p.m.

3. -- Trump Calls on Apple to Unlock iPhones of Pensacola Shooter

Donald Trump has called on Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report to "step up to the plate” and assist authorities with unlocking iPhones that were used by the gunman in a terrorist attack at a naval air station in Florida in early December.

In a tweet, the president said, “We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW!"

Attorney General William Barr pressured Apple on Monday to help investigators. Barr said the tech giant had provided no “substantive assistance” to the FBI in unlocking the cell phones. 

Apple, however, said it has provided substantive assistance in the investigation of the Pensacola, Fla., shooting.

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4. -- Beyond Meat Signs Multi-Year Pea Protein Supply Agreement

Beyond Meat  (BYND) - Get Report inked a multi-year pea protein supply agreement with Roquette, a maker of plant-based ingredients and a pioneer of plant proteins. 

The supply agreement expands a partnership between the companies that began about 10 years ago. The deal, the companies said in a statement, "significantly increases the amount of pea protein to be supplied by Roquette to Beyond Meat over the next three years as compared to the amount supplied in 2019." Financial terms weren't disclosed.

“This latest contract with Roquette reflects Beyond Meat's commitment to further scaling the plant protein supply chain as global demand for our products continues to rise," said Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat.

Beyond Meat shares were down 2.49% in premarket trading Wednesday to $114.14 after being downgraded to market perform from outperform by Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard who cited valuation for the downgrade. The stock has gained nearly 55% so far in 2019.

5. -- Amazon Allows Third-Party Sellers to Again Use FedEx Ground

Amazon.com  (AMZN) - Get Report told sellers on its platform they can go back to using FedEx  (FDX) - Get Report ground services to ship their products to subscribers of the retailer's Prime membership offering.

The change in policy reflects improvements in ground and home’s on-time delivery requirements, Amazon said in a statement.

Amazon banned third-party sellers for about a month during the holiday shopping season from using FedEx's ground service because FedEx purportedly wasn’t delivering on time.

That move came after FedEx said in August that it was ending its ground delivery contract with Amazon after also stopping its U.S. shipping contract with the online retailing giant in June.

FedEx shares rose 1.09% to $163.90 in premarket trading.

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