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VW loss and the GOP debate — 5 things to know today

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are higher Wednesday in the afterglow of Apple’s 3Q earnings which, along with Alibaba’s, gave some reassurance about the strength of the Chinese consumer. The dollar is little changed against the euro while crude oil futures are up a tad after wilting again on Tuesday under concerns about oversupply.

Today’s must-read story is from Fortune‘s Robert Hackett and it looks at what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found while inspecting the labs of the controversial blood-testing startup Theranos, which has been under fire recently over accusations that it misled the public, and maybe the government, with regard to the effectiveness of its technology.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. Volkswagen posted its first quarterly loss in 15 years

The German company put a brave face on a figure made inevitable by the $7.5 billion charge it took in September to cover the fallout from the diesel emissions scandal. Its shares rose in recognition of a pretty solid quarter that left the group with nearly $30 billion in net liquidity. But the company says it’s still too early to make a sensible forecast about the likely costs of the scandal.

2. Fed meeting ends with a statement

Today marks the end of the latest two-day meeting of U.S. Federal Reserve leaders, who will issue a statement regarding the country’s monetary policy after convening throughout the day. Economists do not expect the central bank to announce a long-awaited interest rate hike after Fed chair Janet Yellen said last month that global economic uncertainty had stalled the Fed’s timetable for implementing the first rate hike in nearly a decade. Still, the central bank’s leaders have maintained that the Fed will likely need to raise rates before the end of the year. The final Fed meeting will take place in December.

3. GOP debate on CNBC

Tonight brings the third Republican primary debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle, with the latest chapter taking place at the University of Colorado, Boulder and airing on CNBC. The previous two GOP debates have raked in huge television ratings as the events rode the coattails of Donald Trump’s surprising success and celebrity. As the election cycle slogs on, and with more than three months left until the Iowa caucuses, it will be interesting to see if those ratings will eventually fall off. Meanwhile, Trump is finally losing some ground at the polls after maintaining his role as frontrunner for months, though another political newcomer, Dr. Ben Carson, is the one overtaking him.

4. Walgreens earnings

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) will report fourth-quarter earnings today, one day after reports surfaced saying the country’s largest drugstore chain is in talks to acquire smaller rival Rite Aid (RAD). Investors will be itching to see if the company comments on those takeover rumors, while analysts are predicting that Walgreens will report quarterly revenue that falls short of Wall Street’s expectations.

5. Northrop Grumman’s stunning stealth bomber victory.

The Pentagon late Thursday awarded an $80 billion contract to build the U.S. airforce’s next generation of long-range bombers to Northrop Grumman (NOC), effectively securing the company’s future for the next decade. The decision was a big surprise and a big disappointment to Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Boeing (BA), who had been favorites to win it.

– Reuters contributed to this post.