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Covid Chaos, 5G Delay, Holmes Found Guilty - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks set to rise despite record new Covid cases, AT&T and Verizon acquiesce to delaying 5G rollout, Walmart shuts stores for Covid cleaning and Theranos founder found guilty.

Stocks are set to rise for a second trading day despite a record number of new Covid cases that resulted in more than 1 million new infections across the U.S. on Monday. Verizon  (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report and AT&T  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report, meantime, acquiesce to a 5G rollout delay, Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report discloses that it has shuttered stores for deep Covid cleanings and Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is found guilty on some but not all fraud charges. 

Here are five things you must know for Tuesday Jan. 4:

1 -- Stock Futures Rise Despite Record Omicron Infections

U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday morning as Wall Street looked past a record number of omicron coronavirus infections that continue to wreak havoc on U.S. health care system as well as the broader economy.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 136-point opening gain, while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 19.5-point increase. Futures tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite are indicating a 68-point gain at the start of trading as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields trading down slightly at 1.628%.

On Monday, the major averages rose, lifted by the technology sector. The Dow added 246 points to close at a record. The S&P also registered a gain, climbing 0.6% to close at an all-time high. The Nasdaq performed even better, gaining 1.2% as Meta Platforms, Amazon and Google-parent Alphabet all ended the first trading day of the year on an higher note.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report and Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report were also bright spots, with Tesla adding 13.5% after the firm beat fourth-quarter and full-year delivery expectations and Apple gaining 2.5% and briefing touching $3 trillion in market capitalization, the first U.S. company to hit the financial milestone. Airline and travel stocks also took the chaos in stride.

2 -- A Record 1 Million New Covid Infections 

The U.S. reported a record 1 million new Covid infections on Monday as the omicron variant of the contagious virus continues to sweep across the U.S.

A total of 1,082,549 new coronavirus cases were reported on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as the highly infectious omicron variant continues to spread throughout the country.

On a seven-day average, new U.S. Covid cases are at a record of 363,592 per day as of 6 a.m. ET Monday, JHU data showed.

Airlines and schools are among the hardest hit areas, with schools in Atlanta, Newark, and Cleveland opting to go remote temporarily, while others are requiring a negative Covid test for in-person learning.

Meantime the The Food and Drug Administration on Monday expanded eligibility for Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report and BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report booster shots to children ages 12 to 15 years old, as school restarts after winter break. The FDA also shortened the time between the second Pfizer dose and the booster shot to five months, down from six months. 

People who received the two-dose Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report vaccine are still supposed to get their booster at least six months after the second shot, while those who received Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report as their primary vaccine are eligible for a booster at least two months after their first shot, the FDA said.

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3 -- AT&T, Verizon Acquise to 5G Rollout Delay

Verizon  (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report and AT&T  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report said late on Monday they had agreed to a two-week delay in deploying C-Band wireless spectrum, averting an aviation safety standoff that threatened to disrupt flights starting this week.

The carriers had faced pressure from the White House, airlines and aviation unions to delay the deployment amid concerns about potential interference of 5G with sensitive aircraft electronics like radio altimeters that could disrupt flights.

The agreement pushes back the deployment date to Jan. 19. Verizon said the delay “promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January.” AT&T said it agreed to the delay at the request of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues,” the company said.

Over the next two weeks, regulators, airlines and wireless carriers will look at ways of minimizing the potential impact of interference on flight operations. Airlines in particular have contested the delay, saying it will only add to ongoing delays resulting from omicron and weather. 

4 -- Walmart shut nearly 60 U.S. stores for Covid Cleaning

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report temporarily shut almost 60 U.S. stores in Covid hotspots in December to sanitize them against the virus, in a sign the new Omicron variant is disrupting the retail industry.

The Walmart stores -- in locations including Texas and New Jersey -- were closed for two days for cleaning “to present a safe and clean in-store environment for our associates and customers,” a company spokesperson told Reuters in a statement. Walmart has more than 4,700 U.S. locations in total.

“We’ve been closely monitoring our stores across the country, making the decision to temporarily close locations on a store-by-store basis through a collection of market-related data,” the Walmart spokesperson told Reuters.

The world’s biggest retailer also did not comment on whether it was seeing an increase in workers testing positive for Covid-19.

5 -- Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Found Guilty

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, the one-time billionaire and darling of Silicon Valley who promised a revolutionary blood-testing technology, has been found guilty of four charges in her criminal fraud trial.

The jury of eight men and four women were handed the case in mid-December after three months of proceedings and testimony from 32 witnesses. Deliberations lasted more than 50 hours over seven days.

In the end, the jurors convicted Holmes of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud against specific investors. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila will sentence Holmes at a later date. She faces up to 20 years in prison.

Holmes was found not guilty on four charges and the jury determined there was no verdict on the other three. Jurors told Davila earlier on Monday that they were deadlocked on three of the 11 charges. A mistrial on those three counts was later declared by Davila, with a status meeting now scheduled for next Monday.