Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- S&P 500 set to open flat after inching back toward record
- Three reports provide more insight into the economic recovery
- Meme stock rally set to pause after a month of comeback gains
- Round 2 for bank CEOs after fireworks at Wednesday's hearing
- Biden orders closer review of Covid origins, including possible Wuhan lab leak
U.S. stock futures were relatively flat Thursday, and the 10-year Treasury yield was higher, over 1.6%, after of a burst of morning economic data. The market saw modest gains Wednesday, supported by stocks tied to the economic reopening. The S&P 500 ended less than 1% from its May 7 record close. With two trading days left in May, the Nasdaq was up nearly 2% for the week but down 1.6% for the month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were up for the week and the month.
Acorns said Thursday it will merge with with Pioneer Merger Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. The SPAC deal values Acorns at roughly $2.2 billion, more than double its last private valuation. When the transaction is finalized, Acorns will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol OAKS, a nod to the company's motto and analogy of growing acorns into "mighty oaks." Comcast's venture arm and NBCUniversal are investors in Acorns. Comcast also owns CNBC.
The government issued three key economic reports Thursday morning, one hour before the opening bell on Wall Street.
- Initial jobless claims for last week fell more than expected to 406,000, another pandemic-era low, compared with the unrevised 444,000 new filings the prior week.
- The second estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product held steady at an annual growth rate of 6.4%. In the fourth quarter of 2020, GDP increased 4.3%.
- April durable goods orders dropped 1.3%. Economists had called for a 0.9% increase following an upwardly revised March gain of 1.3%.
This week's meme stock rally was set to take pause Thursday. Shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment, both popular with Reddit traders, were under pressure in the premarket. However, GameStop surged nearly 16% on Wednesday alone and almost 44% in the past month. AMC soared 19% on Wednesday and 70% over the past month. GameStop is up nearly 1,200% this year, including epic gains in January. AMC was up 822% year to date. Strategists attribute the recent runup in these stocks to being oversold.
Major bank CEOs are set to face a second round of grilling by lawmakers as they testify before the House Financial Services Committee. There were fireworks at the Senate Banking Committee's hearing Wednesday when progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren went after JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon. The Massachusetts Democrat called Dimon out over the bank's haul of nearly $1.5 billion in overdraft fees last year as borrowers struggled during Covid lockdowns. Dimon said JPMorgan waived overdraft fees for customers who requested relief. When asked whether the bank would refund the fees to those who didn't, Dimon said, "No."
President Joe Biden has ordered a closer intelligence review of what he said were two equally plausible scenarios of the origins of the coronavirus. Biden revealed that earlier this year, he asked the intelligence community to assess "whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal, or from a laboratory accident." The hypothesis that the virus may have escaped from a Chinese lab has gained more mainstream traction in recent months. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in Senate testimony last week that a lab-leak origin was "one possibility." China has dismissed the lab theory.