Here are five things you must know for Monday, December 20:
1. -- Stock Futures Slump, With Tech Hit Hard, As Omicron Surges
U.S. equity futures slumped lower Monday, with tech stocks leading to the downside with heavy declines, as investors withdrew from risk markets amid a surge in global Omicron infections and lingering concerns of the impact of rising inflation.
In Europe, where the variant appears to be accelerating fastest, new restrictions on travel are being imposed by France and Germany, while the Netherlands issued fresh lockdown orders Sunday that could be picked up by neighboring countries over the coming days.
In the U.S., outbreaks in New York have triggered new warnings on indoor gatherings, with the cancellation of several Broadway shows, while sports teams around the nation were hit by multiple infections, game delays and restrictions on out-of-country travel.
U.S. markets may also feel the impact of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's decision to withdraw support for President Joe Biden's 'Build Back Better' program, a move that likely puts the $1.75 trillion stimulus bill in serious, if not fatal jeopardy.
Curiously, even as concerns for faster inflation and higher interest rates continue to pound tech stocks, Treasury bond yields were marked notably lower in overnight trading as investors look to slower growth prospects linked to both the Omicron surge and the potential impact of a hawkish Federal Reserve.
Benchmark 10-year note yields traded at 1.39% during European hours, even as the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, edged 0.05% higher to 96.599.
On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 380 point opening bell decline, while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 57 point slide.
The Nasdaq Composite, however, looks set for a 250 opening bell slump that will extend last week's combined loss of around 3%, pegging the tech-focused benchmark some 8.4% from the all-time high it reached on November 22.
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2. -- Moderna Says Booster Shot Induces Antibody Response to Omicron
Moderna (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report shares surged higher in pre-market trading after the drugmaker said booster shots of its coronavirus vaccine induced a big jump in antibodes that can fight against the Omicron variant.
Moderna said its mRNA-1273 vaccine can offer a 'first line of defense' against the rapidly-accelerating variant, which the World Health Organization has identified in 89 countries, noting that a 50 microgram booster given to those with two prior shots increased neutralizing antibodies against Omicron by 37 times, whereas an 100 micogram dose induced a reaction that was 80 times greater.
Moderna shares were marked 5.5% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $310.80 each.
3. -- Disney, Google, Reach Deal To End YouTube Channel Spat
Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report and Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report reached a deal over the weekend the returned the entertainment group's sports and movie channels to YouTubeTV following a dispute over carriage fees.
YouTube, which offers a selection of streaming channels for around $65 a month, dropped Disney offerings last week as the two groups sparred over financial terms, with viewers losing access to ESPN and FX for around two days. Both channels were restored Sunday, YouTube said, while Disney expressed appreciation for "Google's collaboration to reach fair terms that are consistent with the market."
Disney shares were marked 1.5% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $146.50 each. Google shares, meanwhile, were down 1.2% at $2,800.44 each.
4. -- Global M&A Tops $5 Trillion, Hits Record High
Global merger deals topped $5 trillion for the first time on record this year, an all-time high powered in part by SPAC deals, cheap capital and major corporate restructurings.
Dealogic, which compiles merger and acquisition data, said the value of global deals rose 63% from last year to $5.63 trillion, a fresh all-time high that eclipsed the 2007 record of $4.42 trillion.
Plans unveiled by General Electric (GE) - Get General Electric Company Report and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report to split-up their companies played a big role in this year's record total, as did the surge in deals made with so-called special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, lead by Singapore-based Grab's $4.5 billion merger earlier this month.
5. -- Musk Claims His 2021 Tax Bill Will Hit $11 Billion
Tesla's (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report Elon Musk was back on Twitter discussing his tax burden over the weekend, telling his near 70 million followers that he's pay Uncle Sam more than $11 billion this year.
Musk, the world's richest man with an estimated net worth of $300 billion, has sold around $14 billion worth of Tesla shares over the past few weeks -- while simultaneously exercising options to buy even more at a cheaper price -- in order to generate a tax bill that he claims will be 'more than any American in history this year'.
Tesla shares were marked 2.3% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $911.20 each.