What to watch today: Wall Street steady after four straight days of record highs
U.S. stock futures were mixed Thursday, one day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all closed at record highs for the fourth straight session. Investors were undeterred by the Federal Reserve's well-telegraphed post-November meeting announcement Wednesday afternoon of the start of tapering Covid-era bond purchases as the economy improved. (CNBC)
One day before releasing its October employment report, the Labor Department reported Thursday initial jobless claims of 269,000 for last week, a better-than-expected reading and a drop to another pandemic low. On Wednesday morning, ADP's October read on U.S. companies' hiring was much better than expected. (CNBC)
The Fed will begin slowing down later this month the purchase of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities by $15 billion each month from the current $120 billion per month. The central bank held interest rates steady at near zero, saying that tapering pandemic monetary stimulus should not be viewed as a signal that rate hikes are imminent. (CNBC)
* Fed's Powell says decades-high inflation largely due to supply chain disruptions (CNBC)
IN THE NEWS TODAY
The Biden administration ordered U.S. companies Thursday to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid by Jan. 4, giving them a reprieve over the holidays. The White House also pushed back the deadline for federal contractors to comply with a stricter set of vaccine requirements for staff from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4. (CNBC)
Shares of Moderna (MRNA) sank roughly 11% in premarket trading after the company on Thursday cut its Covid vaccine sales forecast for the year to between $15 billion and $18 billion from $20 billion. By comparison, Pfizer (PFE) has said it expects Covid vaccine sales of $36 billion this year. On Thursday, Moderna also announced lower-than-expected adjusted third-quarter earnings and revenue. (CNBC)
* Regeneron profit nearly doubles on strong demand for Covid antibody cocktail (Reuters)
* Merck's Covid pill approved by UK, a potential game-changer in fighting pandemic (CNBC)
* Booking shines on travel rebound, Covid in Europe casts doubts on holiday (Reuters)
Ford (F) will require its roughly 32,000 salaried employees in the U.S. to be vaccinated against Covid by Dec. 8 or face unpaid leave, CNBC has learned. The mandate does not include among other groups 57,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers union. Ford is the first major U.S. automaker to impose a vaccine mandate. (CNBC)
* Ford to repurchase up to $5 billion in junk bonds as it restructures its balance sheet (CNBC)
Kroger (KR) wants to attract tens of thousands of new customers in Florida without opening a single grocery store. Instead, the supermarket operator is relying on a giant warehouse of robots and a fleet of drivers to fulfill and deliver online orders. Florida is ground zero as Kroger rolls out a national strategy to become a more dominant e-commerce player. (CNBC)
* Here's how Kroger is using robots to get groceries to customers' doors (CNBC)
The House is preparing to vote as soon as Thursday on a revised draft of President Joe Biden's now-$1.85 trillion social and climate spending package after a flurry of last-minute adjustments. A bipartisan, Senate-passed $1 trillion infrastructure bill could also come up for a vote in the House. (AP)
* House Democrats propose increasing state and local tax, SALT, cap (CNBC)
* Dems’ latest climate plan includes tax breaks for EVs that cost up to $80,000 (CNBC)
Democrats want to make gains on Biden's proposals after their party lost the tight Virginia governor's race and barely hung on in New Jersey's unexpectedly close gubernatorial contest. The strong GOP showings at the polls could signal trouble for Biden and Democrats in next year's midterm election. (CNBC)
* Virginia elected GOP governor in highest voter turnout in recent history (CNBC)
STOCKS TO WATCH
Roku (ROKU) shares slid 7.9% in premarket trading despite an earnings beat. The video-streaming device maker earned 48 cents per share for its latest quarter, well above the 6-cent consensus estimate, but revenue fell short of forecasts and the company issued a lower-than-expected revenue forecast for the holiday quarter.
Qualcomm (QCOM) beat estimates by 29 cents with adjusted quarterly earnings of $2.55 per share, and the chip maker's revenue also beat forecasts. Qualcomm also forecasts strong growth, driven by demands for 5G smartphone technology. Shares jumped 8.3% in premarket trading.
Electronic Arts (EA) reported an adjusted quarterly profit of $1.49 per share, compared with a consensus estimate of $1.17. The video game maker also beat on the top line. EA also raised its full-year outlook amid strength in its sports-themed games. Electronic Arts added 2.9% in the premarket.
Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) had a quarter that mirrored rival Electronic Arts, beating on both the top and bottom lines, and raising its outlook. Take-Two reported adjusted earnings of $1.63 a share, beating the consensus estimate of $1.34, and its stock added 1.1% in premarket action.
Etsy (ETSY) issued weaker-than-expected current-quarter revenue guidance although the online crafts marketplace did beat forecasts for its most recent quarter, coming in 8 cents above estimates with earnings of 62 cents per share. The stock fell modestly in the premarket.
ViacomCBS (VIAC) rose 1.2% in premarket trading after its quarterly earnings matched estimates and revenue came in better than expected. Results got a boost from strength in the company's streaming and TV businesses.
Planet Fitness (PLNT) surged 4.7% in premarket action after beating on the top and bottom lines and raising its full-year revenue forecast. Planet Fitness earned an adjusted 25 cents per share for its latest quarter, 7 cents above estimates.
Wayfair (W) slid 4.4% in the premarket after it reported an unexpected quarterly profit but saw revenue fall below analyst forecasts. The online home goods seller noted that spending has started to transition toward brick-and-mortar stores post-pandemic and it may take a few quarters for its growth to return to normal levels.
MGM Resorts (MGM) rallied 4.3% in the premarket after announcing plans to sell the operations of its Mirage casino in Las Vegas to another operator. MGM said no sales agreement has been reached, however, and it did not disclose the name of any potential buyers.
Allbirds (BIRD) fell almost 4% in Thursday's premarket, one day after the company known for its eco-friendly wool sneakers and slip-ons shoes surged 90% in its stock market debut, grabbing a valuation of roughly $4.1 billion.
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