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Tesla, Activision, Fed Chair Choice and Stock Markets - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks move higher into holiday-shortened week; Fed minutes, inflation and GDP data highlight weekly release calendar; Biden set to make final decision on Fed Chair; Activision CEO will step down if he can't change workplace culture and Musk Tweet's that the Model S Plaid will come to China early next year.

Here are five things you must know for Monday, November 22:

1. -- Stocks Futures  

U.S. equity futures powered higher Monday, while Treasury bond yields held steady and the dollar firmed against its global peers, as investors entered the Thanksgiving holiday-shortened week in a cautiously bullish mood.

With markets closed on Thursday, and trading for only a half day on Friday, liquidity is likely to be thin this week with only 12 S&P 500 companies reporting earnings and light economic calendar highlighted by minutes of the November Fed meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Stocks are getting their early Monday boost, however, from the sustained strength of the third quarter earnings season, which is easing into its conclusion, as collective S&P 500 profits rise 42.3% from last year to $452.9 billion. Stronger-than-expected consumer spending data, as well as continued improvements in the labor market are adding to the bullish tone.

Inflation prospects, however, are showing few signs of abating, and the current rally -- which has taken the S&P 500 to a year-to-date gain of around 25.1% -- could be tested if the Fed were to accelerate its tapering plans in order to slow the searing pace of CPI gains. 

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 145 point opening gain while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 16 point move to the upside.

Futures tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite are indicating a 65 point gain as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields hold at 1.578% in overnight trading.

2. -- Thanksgiving Week Ahead

Minutes of the Federal Reserve's November policy meeting, during which it unveiled plans to slow the pace of its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases in order to blunt the impact of rising inflation, will highlight a quiet calendar of events over the holiday-shortened week.

The minutes, which will be released Wednesday at 2:00 PM Eastern time, will following initial jobless claims data that same day, as well as an advanced look at third quarter GDP from the Commerce Department, following on from its earlier growth estimate of 2.0%. The Fed's preferred measure of inflation, the PCE Price Index, will also be published Wednesday at 8:30 am Eastern time.

In terms of corporate earnings, only 12 S&P 500 companies are slated to report this week, highlighted by updates from retailers including Best Buy  (BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report, Gap  (GPS) - Get Gap, Inc. (GPS) Report, Nordstrom  (JWN) - Get Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN) Report and Dollar Tree  (DLTR) - Get Dollar Tree, Inc. Report. Deere & Co.  (DE) - Get Deere & Company Report will also report on Wednesday. 

3. -- Biden's Fed Choice: Powell or Brainard 

President Joe Biden is expected to unveil his choice to lead the Federal Reserve from next year sometime this week, with reports suggesting he's leaning towards the re-appointment of current Chairman Jerome Powell.

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Powell, who's term expires on February 5, has steered the economy through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, and also showed impressive resolve in resisting pressure from former President Donald Trump during the bulk of his four-year tenure.

However, progressives in the Democratic party -- lead by Senator Elizabeth Warren -- have been pushing for the selection of Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who is seen as both dovish on Fed rate policy and more aligned with their need to blend monetary policy into the fight against climate change. She is also seen as tougher on the banking sector, an issue Warren has raised several times during her questioning of Powell in Senate committee hearings.

What Happens When the Fed Finally Tapers?

4. -- Activision CEO Vows To Address Culture

Activision Blizzard  (ATVI) - Get Activision Blizzard, Inc. Report shares nudged higher in pre-market trading after the Wall Street Journal reported the CEO Bobby Kotick would consider stepping down if he isn't able to make meaningful changes to the video game maker's workplace culture.

The suggestion followed a walkout by employees on Tuesday after the Journal reported that Kotick knew about allegations of sexual harassment, as well as other issues, earlier than had been made public.

Activision fired 20 employees, and disciplined 20 more, earlier this month amid allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination that followed a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September. The group also set aside $18 million to compensate victims of the allegations and said Kotick would take a modest pay cut.

Activision shares, which have fallen more than 35% over the past six months, were marked 0.6% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $62.02 each.

5. -- Musk Says Plaid S Coming to China Soon

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report shares jumped higher in pre-market trading after founder and CEO Elon Musk said the Model S Plaid, the car-maker's high performance luxury sedan, will be made available in China early next year.

In a Tweet early Monday, Musk said the Plaid will be coming to China "probably around March", following its formal launch in September. The Plaid, priced at $140,000, has a charge range of 520 miles and reportedly can reach top speeds of 200 miles per hour.

The Tweet follows a weekend of disruption for some Tesla owners after an app server outage that prevent many from connecting to, or entering, their Tesla vehicles. 

Tesla shares were marked 2.% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $1,169.10 each.