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Stocks Higher On Earnings, Barclays CEO Out After Epstein Probe, COP26 In Session As G-20 Punts on Climate - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks higher on earnings optimism ahead of Fed meeting; COP26 looks to seal climate accord after G-20 punt; Barclays CEO steps down amid probe into Epstein ties; Coca-Cola eyes control of Body Armor; American Airlines suffers weekend flight chaos.

Here are five things you must know for Friday, October 29:

1. -- Stocks Futures Higher Ahead of Fed Meeting

U.S. equity futures powered higher Monday, following on from the best monthly gain for the S&P 500 in nearly a year, as earnings optimism continues to offset concern over a near-term move on tapering from the Federal Reserve that could add to signals of slowing growth in the supply chain-snarled economy. 

With a bit more than half of the S&P 500 reporting so far through the third quarter earnings season, 82.1% have beaten Street forecasts, a rate that is well above the long-term average of 65% and puts the benchmark on pace to see collective profits rise 39.2% from last year to $444.3 billion.

That momentum has, for the moment at least, snuffed out concerns for both faster inflation and slowing growth, both of which were in evidence last week when the Fed's preferred inflation gauge held near the highest levels since the early 90s over the month of September.

Fed officials will kick-off their two-day policy meeting Tuesday, with analysts looking for a formal start to the tapering process -- i.e. a slowing of the pace of monthly bond purchases that have been holding down market interest rates since the peak of the pandemic -- the following day.  

Wall Street will look to start the week testing record highs, however, with futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 165 point opening gain  while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for an 18 point move to the upside. Futures tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite are indicating a 60 point bump from Friday's close.

2. -- COP26 In Session As G-20 Punts on Climate Change

Leaders of the world's 20 largest economies agreed to commit to "meaningful and effective" action on climate change ahead of key environmental summit in Glasgow this week, but a lack of detail in the hastily-arranged pact puts tremendous pressure on the United Nations' COP26 meetings to establish a more practical framework.

President Joe Biden blamed Russia and China for the thinly-worded agreement from this weekend's G-20 Summit in Rome, telling reporters that the pair "basically didn’t show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate change."

The U.N. has said the world is "way off track" in terms of meeting its Paris Accord commitments on global warming, which the G-20 could only agree to slow by "mid-century", instead of the 2050 target date demanded by climate activists. 

“Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell the Summit today. “It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now.”

3. -- Barclays CEO Out After Probe Into Epstein Ties 

Barclays  (BCS) - Get Free Report CEO Jes Staley was asked to step down Monday following an investigation by U.K. regulators into his relationship with convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. 

Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said Staley, 64, told regulators and the bank that his relationship with Epstein ended in 2015 - four year before he took his own life while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in New York. 

Barclays said that the investigation, which included Britain's Prudential Regulation Authority, “makes no findings that Mr. Staley saw, or was aware of, any of Mr. Epstein’s alleged crimes.”

Staley, who was at the center of allegations that he tried to reveal the identify of a Barclays whistleblower in 2018, has said he will contest the findings. 

Barclays shares were marked 1.5% lower in early London trading Monday to change hands at 198.96 pence each.

4. -- Coca-Cola Eyes Control of Sports Drink Group Body Armor

Coca-Cola  (KO) - Get Free Report shares edged higher Monday amid reports that the group with pay $5.6 billion to take full control of sports drink maker BodyArmor. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Coca-Cola, which already owns a 30% stake in the Beverely Hills, California-based group, will buy the remaining stake for $5.6 billion as it seeks to expand its offering of low sugar and non-carbonated beverages. 

Body Armor's sales over the past twelve months have topped $1.4 billion, according to Nielsen data, with the brand growing around 280% over the past three years to hold a 17% shares of the sports drink market. 

Coca-Cola shares were marked 0.23% higher in pre-market trading Monday to indicate an opening bell price of $56.50 each. 

5. -- American Airlines Suffers Weekend Flight Chaos 

American Airlines Group  (AAL) - Get Free Report shares edged modestly higher in pre-market trading following a week of chaos for the country's largest carrier that included 1,500 cancelled flights.

American said the cancellations -- which came only weeks after a similar incident at rival Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Free Report -- were linked to staff shortages and bad weather and included 551 flights on Saturday and at least a further 480 on Sunday. Another 376 were cancelled on Friday.  

"With additional weather throughout the system, our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences," American said.

American said it hoped to add 600 new flight attendants by the end of the year, adding to the 1,800 it expects to return from leave, as it prepares for the busiest holiday travel season in two years heading into the November Thanksgiving break.

American shares were marked 0.05% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $19.21 each.