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Auto sales in focus; Morgan Stanley job cuts; VTech hack affects 5M

Wall Street is kicking off December with some holiday cheer, as stocks (^GSPC) (^DJI) (^IXICstart the day solidly higher.

Automakers are in the spotlight as the industry delivers its monthly sales figures. Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) sales rose a better-than-expected 3% in November, thanks mainly to a 20% jump in its SUV Jeep brand. General Motor’s (GM) sales rose 1.5% in November, driven largely by its Chevy brand and sales of crossover vehicles, while Ford (F) sales rose 0.4%.

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Morgan Stanley (MS) is reportedly planning to cut up to 25% of its fixed-income staff over the next two weeks amid the recent slump in bond trading activity. The cuts will result in the loss of hundreds of jobs across all of the Wall Street firm's division offices. Morgan Stanley's bond trading revenue fell 42% in the third quarter.  

HSBC (HSBC), Barclays (BCS), and other U.S. listed shares of British banks are in focus after the U.K.'s annual stress tests showed that the sector is better equipped to handle economic shocks.

Johnson Controls (JCI) said it expects fiscal 2016 sales to rise by a stronger-than-expected 4%. The company also said it will complete the spinoff of its automotive business by next October.   

Mattress Firm (MFRM) is buying privately-owned Sleepy's in a deal valued at $780 million. The purchase will add over 1,000 stores across 17 states, helping boost Mattress Firm's presence in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic markets.   

HF Financial (HFFC) is being bought by Great Western Bancorp (GWB) for $139.5 million in cash and stock. The deal will provide Great Western Bancorp a branch presence in the Fargo, North Dakota and Minnesota markets.

Daraprim |Controversy

The big issue of drug price gouging is back in the spotlight.  Pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts (ESRX) is promoting a less expensive alternative to the life-saving drug Daraprim—the pill whose price jumped more than 50-fold earlier this year to $750 per pill. The new drug will cost $1.

VTech Hacked

A big warning for parents. Digital toy maker VTech Holdings confirmed that the personal information of nearly 5 million adults and children has been stolen through a portal used to download games to its computer tablets. While no credit card numbers were stolen, hackers did get access to pictures of customers' children, email addresses, passwords, and mailing addresses.