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Mixed Trade War Signals, the Moonves Scandal, & CVS' Drug Price Plan

On today’s episode of Free Lunch, Ryan McQueeney discusses the latest drama in the U.S.-China trade war, new developments in Les Moonves’ departure from CBS, and a new drug pricing plan from pharmacy giant CVS.

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Free Lunch is presented by Zacks Investment Research. It is streamed live, four times per week, and features breaking news and analysis from Zacks strategists. Free Lunch is available on YouTube, Facebook Live, Twitter, Ustream, and more.

The U.S. stock market is closed Wednesday in observance of the National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush. Futures trading is open, however, and some investors are trying to figure out their next move after one of the worst trading sessions of 2018 on Tuesday.

One factor that Wall Street is considering this week is the uncertainty surrounding U.S.-China trade talks. Over the weekend, it seemed that a G20 meeting between officials from both sides went well, with initial reports suggesting that a 90-day halt on new tariffs had been agreed to.

But on Tuesday, a series of tweets from President Trump and rumors of frustration and confusion from the Chinese sent stocks tumbling, as all of a sudden the existence of a 90-day truce looked questionable.

That concern was cooled to an extent overnight, with Chinese officials announcing that they are “confident in implementing” trade commitments made to the U.S. Still, questions remain. Does that statement refer to a truce, or reported pledges to buy more U.S. goods? Could it also include movement on intellectual property issues? What about the topic of cracking down on fentanyl? Clear answers to these questions are seemingly unavailable right now.

Elsewhere, we learned about the ongoing scandal related to Les Moonves’ departure from CBS CBS. The former chief executive recently left CBS after being accused of sexual misconduct, and now, according to a new report from the New York Times, it looks like the network might be able to avoid paying Moonves’ $120 million severance package.

Moonves may have disqualified himself from that massive payout by destroying evidence and lying to investigators, the Times reported.

Another big story today comes from CVS CVS, which just closed its merger with Aetna last week. A huge talking point behind that deal was that it would allow CVS new ways to save customers money on drugs and treatments.

Today, CVS announced what may be its first step in that direction, a new pricing strategy for its prescription benefit subsidiary CVS Caremark. Among other things, this plan will allow CVS to pass through 100% of drug rebates to its health plan clients.

Make sure to check out today’s show for more information on all of these stories!

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