Morning Brief

What to watch today: S&P 500 set for record at open in a relief rally after Fed's decision


Dow futures rose sharply Thursday, pointing to a continued surge as investors seemed satisfied with the Federal Reserve's plan to accelerate its bond-buying taper and projection for three interest rate hikes next year. Two more hikes are seen in 2023 followed by two in 2024. For next year, the Fed increased its inflation outlook, reduced its economic growth forecast and called for an improved jobs market. (CNBC)

* Cramer says the Santa Claus rally may have started early this year. Here’s why (CNBC)
* Art Cashin sees inflation peaking soon and other surprises for the market in 2022 (CNBC)

The 30-stock average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were lower before the Fed's decision Wednesday afternoon following its two-day December meeting. The S&P 500 finished 1.6% higher, just a couple of points away from last week's record close. The Dow and Nasdaq rose 1% and more than 2%, respectively, ending the day nearly 1.4% and 3% away from last month's record closes. (CNBC)

Following this week's hot inflation figures and weaker retail sales growth, the government said Thursday that filings for initial jobless claims rose to a higher-than-expected 206,000 for the week ended Dec. 11. New claims for the prior week were revised slightly higher to 188,000, still the lowest tally in about five decades. (CNBC)

Also Thursday morning, the government said November housing starts surged, while the Philadelphia Fed saw its December business conditions index plummet. (CNBC)


The Covid omicron variant may bring another wave of chaos to the U.S., threatening to further stretch hospital workers and upend holiday plans for the second year in a row. The White House on Wednesday insisted there's no need for a lockdown because vaccines are widely available and appear to offer protection against the worst consequences of the virus. (AP)

* Princeton, Cornell move finals online, cancel events as omicron spikes (NBC)
* Broadway sees more Covid cancellations as some cast, crew test positive (NY Times)
* Apple temporarily closes three stores in response to rising Covid rates (CNBC)

On Thursday, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said its "next generation" antibodies Covid treatment was active against all known variants of concern, including omicron and delta. The company said its currently authorized antibodies have "diminished potency against Omicron" but added they are "active against Delta, which currently is the most prevalent variant in the U.S." (CNBC)

* CDC panel will discuss a blood clot risk linked to J&J's vaccine (NY Times)

President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion social spending and climate policy bill has stalled in the Senate, all but extinguishing Democrats' hopes of passage his year. Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat who alone can block the plan, has not signed off on yet as his party waits to see whether the measure complies with Senate rules. (CNBC)

Delta Air Lines (DAL) said Thursday it now expects to see a pretax profit of $200 million for the fourth quarter. The carrier previously projected a loss. Shares in the premarket rose more than 2% on the news. The Atlanta-based airline also said it expects fourth-quarter revenue to come in 26% below 2019 levels when it brought it $11.44 billion. (CNBC)

McDonald's (MCD) announced Thursday it's settled its lawsuit against former CEO Steve Easterbrook, clawing back his severance payment valued at $105 million. The fast-food giant first brought a suit against its disgraced former chief executive in August 2020. (CNBC)

Reddit on Wednesday announced that it's confidentially submitted a draft registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public. The social media company did not make the filing publicly available. The company also did not say how many shares would be offered nor the price range for the proposed offering. (CNBC)

* Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen gets a book deal (AP)

CNBC received an early look at the annual CBRE-Optoro report, which shows a 7% increase in the cost of holiday returns. New data shows the average return will cost retailers two-thirds of the original price for the item when factoring in labor, transportation and warehousing costs. (CNBC)

The New York City Council on Wednesday voted to pass legislation banning the use of natural gas in most new construction, a move that will substantially slash climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions from the country's most populous city. (CNBC)

* Coffee production hurts the planet. Scientists think they may have another way (CNBC)


Morgan Stanley upgraded AT&T (T) to "overweight" from "equal-weight," saying a recent slide by the stock creates an attractive risk-reward profile. The firm said there are several other key factors driving the upgrade, including the pending completion of the WarnerMedia/Discovery merger. AT&T gained 1.5% in premarket trading.

Accenture (ACN) surged 6.7% in the premarket after it reported better-than-expected profit and revenue for its latest quarter, and raised its earnings guidance for fiscal 2022. Revenue rose by more than 20% across the four biggest industry groups in Accenture's customer base.

Lennar (LEN) reported quarterly earnings and revenue fell short of forecasts. The homebuilder was hurt by higher lumber costs as well as increased labor costs and shortages of raw materials, resulting in delayed home deliveries. Lennar tumbled 6.3% in the premarket.

Novartis (NVS) launched a new share buyback program worth up to $15 billion, with the drug maker planning to complete those repurchases by the end of 2023. Shares jumped 4% in premarket trading.

Visa (V) rose 1% in the premarket after announcing that it added $12 billion to its share buyback program, bringing the total amount of its repurchase authority to $13.2 billion.

Shopify (SHOP) rallied nearly 3% in premarket trading after Evercore upgraded it to "outperform" from "in line." Evercore noted that the stock is about 20% below its year highs and that the company represents a high-quality asset in terms of growth opportunities.


Bruce Springsteen has sold his music rights to Sony Music Entertainment in what could be the biggest deal ever struck for a single artist's body of work, according to a report in Billboard. The catalog's value may exceed $500 million, said Billboard, citing people familiar with the terms.