BY THE NUMBERS
U.S. stock futures on Thursday pointed to a third straight session of gains in what would be a continuation of Wall Street's rebound from a prior three-session losing streak on concerns about the Covid omicron variant. The Dow rose 261 points, or 0.7%, on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq up 1% and 1.2%, respectively. Adding to the positive sentiment, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Pfizer's Covid pill, the first antiviral drug against the virus for at-home use. (CNBC)
Trading is expected to remain relatively thin as the U.S. stock market is closed Friday for Christmas Eve. However, there's a full slate of economic data Thursday, starting at 8:30 a.m. ET with numbers on jobs, inflation, spending and durable goods orders. The numbers showed a strong economy with improving labor and spending trends, but inflation at uncomfortable levels. At 10 a.m. ET, November new home sales and the University of Michigan's final December consumer sentiment index are out. (CNBC)
IN THE NEWS TODAY
The omicron variant is less likely to result in hospitalization and appears milder than earlier strains of the virus, according to early data released by research teams this week. On Tuesday, a new study from South Africa showed that people infected with omicron are 80% less likely to be admitted to a hospital than if they contract other strains. (CNBC)
On Wednesday, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that omicron accounted for 90% of the cases in some parts of the country. The CDC said the variant made up more than 73% of the cases in the U.S. as of Saturday. (CNBC)
Hospitals across the nation are preparing for another wave of Covid that could rival the early days of the pandemic as the highly mutated and contagious omicron variant rages. In fact, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation told USA Today that new modeling shows the U.S. could see about 140 million new cases from January to March.
Peak new daily infections are projected to reach about 2.8 million late next month, according to the IHME, with less than 15% expected to be captured by testing. The U.S. has a total of 51.5 million reported Covid cases since the virus arrived in America. Reported cases topped 300,000 in early January of this year.
Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday he's "almost done" with his stock sales after selling over $15 billion worth for more than one month. The billionaire had made confusing statements as to whether he might or might not be done with his stated goal of selling 10% of his Tesla shares. (Reuters)
STOCKS TO WATCH
Novavax (NVAX) jumped 3.4% in the premarket after the drugmaker said a two-dose treatment of its Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated strong immune responses against the omicron variant. It did add that the response to omicron was lower than that against the original virus strain and that a booster dose would likely be helpful.
Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (OCDX) will be acquired by diagnostics technology provider Quidel (QDEL) in a $6 billion cash-and-stock deal valued at $24.68 per share. Ortho stock surged 16.1% in premarket trading while Quidel tumbled 7.2%.
Companies operating casinos in Macau, including Las Vegas Sands (LVS), Wynn Resorts (WYNN) and MGM Resorts (MGM), jumped in premarket trading, following the end of a 45-day public gaming consultation. The results of that consultation apparently calmed fears about new, stricter regulations.
JD.com (JD) slumped 7.8% in premarket action, following news that China-based social media company Tencent would distribute most of its stake in the e-commerce firm to shareholders in the form of a $16.4 billion dividend.
Nikola (NKLA) added 3.9% in the premarket after saying it had completed delivery of its first electric vehicle and that more were on the way.
Stitch Fix (SFIX) added 1.8% in the premarket after shareholder Working Capital Advisors disclosed the purchase of 3.4 million shares in the online clothing styling company, bringing its total holdings to 10.6 million shares.
Mission Produce (AVO) fell 6 cents short of estimates with a quarterly profit of 24 cents per share, while revenue also fell short of forecasts. The company said supply challenges impacted its results, and the stock tumbled 9% in premarket trading.
Crocs (CROX) announced a deal to buy privately held rival Heydude for $2.5 billion in cash and stock. The two sides expect the transaction to close during the first quarter of 2022. Crocs fell 3.4% in the premarket.
SciPlay (SCPL) plummeted 18.2% in the premarket after it ended talks to sell itself to majority shareholder Scientific Games (SGMS). Scientific Games shares surged 7.9%.