- Stocks wrap up a bad year.
- Southwest prepares to pay for its meltdown.
- A new Covid pill shows promise.
Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:
1. That's that
The last trading day of 2022 is upon us. Will we go out with a bang or a whimper? The three major indices are coming off a strong Thursday. The Dow jumped more than 300 points, while the beaten-down Nasdaq surged 2.6% and the S&P 500 rose 1.8%. Even if Friday turns out well, though, the averages are going to finish down for 2022, snapping a three-year win streak, with the Nasdaq faring the worst.
There are some silver linings, however. The Dow and the S&P are set to snap a three-quarter losing streak as the fourth quarter wraps up. The new year doesn't promise much change, though, with the Federal Reserve still trying to tame inflation with interest rates, and some economists and market watchers expecting a recession or at least a slight slowdown. Read live markets updates here.
2. Southwest's costly meltdown
Southwest Airlines hasn't figured out the financial toll of its holiday-week meltdown, but executives warned investors Thursday that it will "certainly" hit the company's fourth-quarter results. For comparison's sake, a similar issue in October 2021 ended up costing Southwest $75 million. But this year's incident went on for longer, and involved more travelers who paid much higher fares. The beleagured airline said it would get back to normal Friday after slashing its schedule over several days, stranding thousands of travelers, as it worked through failures in its internal systems. As for winning back customers, Southwest will have its work cut out for it. "For a company that talks about love and has a heart as their graphic, there was not much love on Christmas day," one traveler told CNBC.
3. New Covid pill shows promise
A trial in China showed that VV116, an experimental antiviral drug for treating Covid, was just as effective as Pfizer's Paxlovid in limiting illness in people at high risk for severe disease. The findings also indicated that the new pill could have fewer side effects that Paxlovid. VV116, made by Junshi Biosciences and Vigonvita Life Science, is similar to remdesivir, which is approved as an IV infusion, but the new drug comes in pill form. The news about VV116 comes as China confronts a surge in coronavirus infections after Xi Jinping's government abruptly ended its zero Covid policy.
4. Lost in space
For an industry that's inherently optimistic, 2022 offered little hope for several space companies that went public through so-called blank-check companies. Seven of them have been trading under $2 a share, and some broke the buck. There were some bright spots, though. Iridium, for instance, is up more than 20%. Investors should expect more space mergers and acquisitions in 2023, while several companies could simply cease to exist, according to CNBC space reporter Michael Sheetz. And sign up for CNBC's weekly Investing in Space newsletter here.
5. Pelé dies at 82
The king is dead. Long live the king. Brazillian soccer superstar Pelé, the only player to win three World Cups, has died at the age of 82. For decades, reaching back to the 1950s, he was the face of the most global of sports. While soccer has yet to reach the heights of tackle football in the United States, Pelé single-handedly made the sport relevant in the country during his time with the New York Cosmos in the 1970s. Tributes from across the globe poured in for Pelé, from leaders and athletes alike. "Pelé was one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game," former President Barack Obama tweeted. "And as one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, he understood the power of sports to bring people together."
Thanks for reading this newsletter. We'll see you next year.
– CNBC's Samantha Subin, Leslie Josephs, Rebecca Picciotto, Michael Sheetz and Michelle Luhn contributed to this report.
— Follow broader market action like a pro on CNBC Pro.