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Stocks Turn Higher, Pelosi Seeks Mulligan, Disney Cuts Deal With 'Black Widow' - 5 Things You Must Know

Stock turn higher on COVID treatment hopes; Pelosi looks for Mulligan on infrastructure vote; Five9 hangs up on Zoom Video's takeover bid, Ford and GM extend plant idles and Disney reaches agreement on 'Black Widow' release with Scarlett Johansson.

Here are five things you must know for Friday, October:

1. -- Stock Futures Turn Higher As Merck Unveils COVID Treatment Data

U.S. equity futures turned higher Friday, following on from the worst month for tech stocks since the peak of the pandemic, as as news of a COVID treatment from Merck  (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report offset concerns focused on inflation, energy markets and the Federal Reserve. 

Merck said its developing coronavirus antiviral drug cut the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk patients by as much as 50% and plans to seek emergency use approval from the Food & Drug Administration 'as soon as possible'.

The news comes as soaring energy prices, exacerbated by a power crisis in China that has spilled over into markets all around the world, supply chain disruptions that are triggering profit warnings across several corporate sectors and wage increases linked to a record labor market shortage have lifted by benchmark Treasury bond yields and boosted inflation forecast, each of which have acted as a breaker on U.S. equity markets. 

Investors will get a glimpse of that impact later this morning with the August reading of Fed's preferred measure of inflation, the PCE Price Index, while laying the groundwork for next week's jobs report and the start of the third quarter earnings season.

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 115 point opening bell gain to kick-off the month of October after the biggest monthly percentage drop for the 30-stock average since September of last year. 

The broader S&P 500, which notched a modest 0.23% third quarter gain despite the worst month of declines since March of 2020, is priced for a 12 point bump. Nasdaq Composite futures, meanwhile, are set for a more modest 10 point pullback as benchmark 10-year note yields held at 1.5% in early New York trading following mixed PCE inflation data.

2. -- House Speaker Pelosi Delays Infrastructure Bill Vote, Looks For Friday Mulligan

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will once again attempt to bridge the gap between progressive and moderate Democrats Friday as she moves to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that has divided the party for months.

After failing to reach an agreement among Democratic lawmakers last night, with progressives opposed to supporting the bill unless it's linked to the broader $3.5 billion budget reconciliation package of spending initiatives that form the framework of President Joe Biden's economic agenda, Pelosi may regroup for a Friday vote 

"We'll see," Pelosi told reporters late Thursday. "The plan is to bring the bill to the floor. One hour at a time."  

3. -- Zoom Video Snubbed As Five9 Shareholders Reject $14.7 Billion Takoever

Zoom Video Communications ZM edged higher Friday after shareholders of call center software group Five9 FIVN voted to reject its $14.7 billion takeover bid.

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The deal, Zoom's largest-ever, would have transformed its platform offering and added a new dimension for investors worried that its popularity would wane as workers and students return to offices and schools in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, a 25% slide in Zoom's share price made the all-stock deal -- first proposed in July -- far less attractive to Five9 shareholders, who were also advised to reject the deal by proxy advisor group ISS.

Zoom shares were marked 1% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $263.93 each, while Five9 shares gained 0.9% to $161.20 each.

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4. -- Ford and GM Extend Production Delays As Chip Shortage Intensifies 

 Ford F and General Motors GM shares slipped lower Friday after the two biggest U.S. carmakers by volume unveiled additional plant closures and production cuts linked to the global shortage in semicoductors.

Ford, which recently announced plans to boost its EV investment by around $11 billion, will halt Mustang production at its Flat Rock, Michigan as well as Transit van production in Kansas City, starting next week. 

General Motors, meanwhile, extended the closure of its Chevy Blazer-focused plant in Coahuila, Mexico, by around two weeks, although it also said operations in Lansing, where Cadillac production has been halted since May, will resume on Monday.

Ford shares were marked 1.2% lower in pre-market trading Friday to indicate an opening bell price of $13.99 each while GM fell 1.1% to $52.14 each.

5. -- Disney Reaches Agreement On 'Black Widow' Release With Scarlett Johansson

Walt Disney  (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report reached an agreement late Thursday with Scarlett Johansson that resolved a months-long dispute over the simultaneous theatre and online streaming release of its Marvel superhero blockbuster "Black Widow".

Johansson sued Disney for breach of contract earlier this summer, arguing the twin release would lead to few box office receipts for the actor -- whose compensation was linked in part to theatre-based performance -- given that movie-goers has the option to watch it on the Disney+ streaming service at home.

Ultimately, 'Black Widow" earned at least six times more at the box office -- nearly $380 million -- than it did from Disney+ purchases, but the agreement, whose terms were not disclosed, leaves open the question of actor compensation as studios look to more simultaneous releases to buttress their online offerings.