5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

  • Dow set to drop as Walmart declines on disappointing earnings
  • Walmart misses on earnings, beats on revenue; CEO to boost wages
  • What to expect from GameStop hearing with Robinhood, Citadel, Reddit CEOs
  • How Texas power grid failed and what could stop it from happening again
  • U.S. life expectancy drops a year in pandemic, worst since WWII

1. Dow set to drop as Walmart declines on disappointing earnings

U.S. stock futures fell Thursday, after Dow stock Walmart dropped more than 4.5% in the premarket on disappointing earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday erased a 180-point loss and ended 90 points higher for another record close. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed slightly lower for the second straight session. The S&P 500 pared losses after minutes from the Fed's last meeting signaled easy monetary policy for longer with the economy nowhere close to pre-coronavirus levels.

The Labor Department on Thursday morning reported 861,000 new filings for unemployment benefits for last week, nearly 90,000 more than expected. The prior week's initial jobless claims reading was revised higher by 55,000 to 848,000. The four-week moving average was 833,250.

2. Walmart misses on earnings, beats on revenue; CEO to boost wages

Walmart reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.39 per share, which fell short of estimates. Revenue grew by 7.3% to a better-than-expected $152.1 billion. The big-box retailer's e-commerce sales in the U.S. grew by 69% and its same-store sales in the U.S. grew by 8.6%. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the company will boost U.S. worker wages, raising the average for hourly employees to above $15 per hour.

3. What to expect from GameStop hearing with Robinhood, Citadel, Reddit CEOs

The heads of Robinhood, Reddit, Citadel and Melvin Capital, will be in Washington for Thursday's highly anticipated GameStop hearing, which is scheduled to begin at noon ET in the House Financial Services Committee. In prepared remarks, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said no significant activity on WallStreetBets last month was driven by bots or foreign agents. Keith Gill, the Reddit and YouTube trading star known as "Roaring Kitty," plans to defend his social media posts that helped spark a mania in GameStop shares.

4. How Texas power grid failed and what could stop it from happening again

More than 500,000 households in Texas are still without power Thursday morning, according to poweroutage.us, following Sunday night's historic cold and snow that caused the state's worst blackouts in decades. Millions of people were in the dark at the height of the crisis, which was caused by a confluence of factors. Officials are already calling for investigations. Experts said there are a number of steps that Texas can take to combat future problems, including weatherizing equipment and increasing the amount of excess supply needed to meet peak power demand.

5. U.S. life expectancy drops a year in pandemic, worst since WWII

Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the pandemic caused the first wave of coronavirus deaths. Minorities suffered the biggest impact, with Black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics, nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates Thursday from the CDC. "You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this," said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC. It's already known that 2020 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real time with CNBC Pro's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.

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