Wall Street expected to open higher, buoyed by strong earnings: U.S. stock index futures pointed higher on Friday, after strong earnings from Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, and Starbucks. These results balanced out Amazon’s first profit miss in two years. Corporate earnings coincided with a dovish signal from the European Central Bank on Thursday signaling a potential rate cut could be in the cards.
Second-quarter GDP surprises to the upside: The U.S. economy grew 2.1 percent in 2Q, faster than expected. Consumer spending helped offset a slowdown in business spending largely tied to ongoing uncertainties around the U.S.-China trade war. Even so, economists are still expecting a rate cut by the Federal Reserve next week.
Jeffrey Epstein’s cozy relationship with the billionaire behind Victoria’s Secret continues to raise questions: Epstein, the New York financier accused of allegedly molesting dozens of female minors, was once praised by Leslie Wexner, the CEO of L Brands (whose brands include Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, as “a most loyal friend” with “excellent judgment and unusually high standards,” the New York Times reported on Friday. Epstein served as Wexner’s personal money manager for a period that ended nearly 12 years ago, a company spokeswoman told the Times. The company called Epstein’s alleged crimes “abhorrent.” Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Facebook co-founder laying out the legal case for breaking up the social media juggernaut: Chris Hughes, who left Facebook in 2007, cashing out his nearly $500 million worth of stock, has been visiting lawmakers and regulators at the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies to discuss whether the company is too powerful and warrants being dismantled, according to reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post. The reports converge with Facebook’s own reveal that it’s facing an antitrust investigation by the FTC.
House passes two-year budget deal, raising spending by billions: On Thursday evening, a divided House voted to approve the Trump-backed legislation, with only 65 Republicans joining the Democratic majority in the 284-to-149 vote. Altogether, the bill — a rare bipartisan effort months in the making — would allow the federal government to spend $2.75 trillion over the next two years and lift the debt ceiling through July 2021, well beyond the upcoming presidential election. Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that if the House passed the bill, he would bring it to a Senate vote next week ahead of Congress’ August recess.