5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday


1. Dow to open flat as Wall Street sees Clinton-like impeachment outcome

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) watch the opening of the public hearing in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on November 13, 2019 in New York City, United States.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Wall Street stock futures were pointing to a flat open on Thursday as investors shrug off the Democratic-controlled House voting Wednesday night to impeach President Donald Trump. The Nasdaq closed at a record Wednesday and logged a six-session winning streak. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 broke five-session winning streaks, with small declines from Tuesday's all-time closing highs. The stock market has been gaining ground throughout the Trump impeachment process as Wall Street bets on a Clinton-like outcome. Former President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House in December 1998 and acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.

2. Trump remains defiant as he faces a Senate trial

President Donald Trump reacts while speaking during a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, December 18, 2019.
Leah Millis | Reuters

Following Wednesday night's vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she wants to see if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would lay out the trial procedures before she sends over the impeachment articles. Trump, only the third president ever to be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors, now faces a trial in the GOP-led Senate. But it's highly unlikely he'll be removed from office, since it would take a two-thirds majority. No Senate Republicans have signaled that they would vote to convict Trump. The president, remaining defiant, held a reelection rally in Michigan as the House was voting to impeach him.

3. Biden still leads the pack as Democrats prepare to debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Tyler Perry Studios November 20, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden is holding his ground as the 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner, six weeks before the first nominating contest. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Biden leading among Democratic voters with 28%, compared with 21% for Sen. Bernie Sanders, 18% for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and 9% for Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former New York Mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg had 5% and 4%, respectively. Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Klobuchar will join billionaire Tom Steyer and businessman Andrew Yang at the latest Democratic debate on Thursday evening in Los Angeles. Late-to-the-race Bloomberg did not qualify.

4. China releases a new tariff exemption list

Shipping containers are loaded onto a ship at the Port of Los Angeles.
Mike Blake | Reuters

China on Thursday unveiled a new list of import tariff exemptions for six chemical and oil products from the U.S., days after the world's two largest economies announced a "phase one" trade deal. Beijing on Dec. 6 waived tariffs for some U.S. soybeans and pork shipments, nine days before the two sides reached the preliminary deal to cancel new U.S. tariffs that had been planned to take effect on Chinese imports. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week acknowledged there remained hard work in the next phases of negotiations.

5. Tesla shares close at a record high

Elon Musk attends the groundbreaking ceremony of the Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai, east China, on January 7, 2019.
Ding Ting | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Shares of Tesla were up another 1% or so in the premarket after closing at an all-time high. The electric auto maker finished Wednesday's session up 3.74% to $393.15 per share, which surpassed the previous intraday highs reached when CEO Elon Musk sent his infamous "funding secured" tweet in August 2018. Shares of Tesla, up 60% this quarter, are on pace for their best three-month performance since the third quarter of 2013. Last week's trade deal between Washington and Beijing could benefit Tesla in the potentially lucrative Chinese market. Tesla's new Shanghai Gigafactory, the company's first outside the U.S., is slowly ramping up.