Stocks have been higher for much of the morning amid signals of a further thawing in U.S.-China trade relations and following the ECB's deposit rate cut and decision to restart asset purchases. Some volatility has been present, however, due to dueling trade talk headlines. Early in the session, Bloomberg said Trump administration officials have discussed offering China a limited trade agreement that would delay, and possibly roll back, some U.S. tariffs in exchange for China committing to intellectual property changes and ag purchases. However, a White House official subsequently told CNBC's Eamon Javers that the Trump administration is "absolutely not" considering an interim trade deal with China.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims dropped 15,000 to 204,000 in the week ended August 7. The Consumer Prices Index rose 0.1% in August, with the core rate increasing 0.3%, which was a little above expectations.
In Europe, the ECB announced the interest rate on its deposit facility will be decreased by 10 basis points to -0.50%. The interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the rate on the marginal lending facility will remain unchanged at their current levels of 0.00% and 0.25% respectively. Additionally, the ECB announced that net purchases will be restarted under the Governing Council's asset purchase program, or APP, at a monthly pace of EUR20B, beginning November 1.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Oracle (ORCL) are down 5% after the company reported earnings a day early as the news was likely brought forward by the accompanying announcement that co-CEO Mark Hurd will take a leave of absence for health related reasons. First quarter revenue came in below the consensus forecast and guidance also missed expectations, though Oracle said it is "off to a good start in FY20" and expects a third consecutive year of double-digit non-GAAP EPS growth.
AT&T (T) shares have slipped 1% after the company provided an updated outlook on Q3 and FY20 in conjunction with CFO John Stephens' presentation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference yesterday. Of note, Stephens said the company expects an incremental 300,000 to 350,000 premium video losses in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter's results, driven by aggressively managing costs with retransmission negotiations, some of which resulted in content provider black outs, and from limiting promotional pricing.
Alphabet's Google (GOOGL) unit reached a settlement with France's Parquet National Financier to pay 500M euros regarding taxes at its Irish unit. In addition to the 500M euro settlement, Google will pay another 465M euros to end France's criminal probe into tax fraud allegations, Le Figaro reported.
In M&A news, The Wall Street Journal's Nina Trentmann reported that Groupon (GRPN) is pursuing a relatively large acquisition and Yelp (YELP) is speculated as the target. The report noted that activist investors have looked to persuade Groupon to consider a variety of options to increase its value.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Moderna (MRNA), which rose 7% after announcing data from two Phase 1 studies of its investigational cytomegalovirus vaccine mRNA-1647 and of mRNA-1944 administered via intravenous infusion in healthy adults.
Also higher was LKQ Corp. (LKQ), which jumped over 10% after Jeffrey Ubben's ValueAct Capital disclosed a new activist stake in the company.
Among the notable losers was Tocagen (TOCA), which plunged 77% to trade below $1 per share after announcing that the Toca 5 Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating Toca 511 & Toca FC in patients with recurrent high grade glioma undergoing resection missed the primary endpoint of overall survival compared to standard of care treatment.
Also lower was Tailored Brands (TLRD), which fell 26% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 116.76, or 0.43%, to 27,253.80, the Nasdaq was up 33.84, or 0.41%, to 8,203.51, and the S&P 500 was up 12.11, or 0.40%, to 3,013.04.