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Stocks Slip, EA Delays 'Battlefield 2042' And SpaceX Makes History - 5 Things You Must Know

Stock futures dip ahead of retail sales and jobs data; FDA debates need for COVID boosters; EA delays its 'Battlefield 2042' launch and Elon Musk's SpaceX launches the world's first civilian crew into orbit.

Here are five things you must know for Thursday, September 15:

1. -- Stock Futures Lower Ahead of Retail Sales, Jobs Data 

Wall Street futures slipped lower heading into the start of trading Thursday, with investors focused on jobs and retail sales data for signals as to the pace of the domestic recovery. 

Asia shares fell for a fourth consecutive session overnight, pulled lower by concerns over slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy and Beijing's broadening crackdown on corporate profitability. 

In the U.S., weekly jobless claims data later this morning may help define market direction, although markets will also track developments in House Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget proposal, particularly as it relates to any increase in the headline corporate tax rate. 

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are moving in-and-out of positive territory, but indicating a modest 22 point opening bell dip while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 6 point bump to the downside. Nasdaq Composite futures are set for a 30 point fall as benchmark 10-year note yields rise to 1.311% in overnight trading.

Oil prices were also back on the march, with U.S. crude prices testing $73 a barrel, after Energy Department data yesterday showed a bigger-than-expected 6.4 million decline in domestic stockpiles and Gulf drillers and refiners move slowly back to full capacity following damage and evacuations linked to Hurricanes Nicholas and Ida.

2. -- FDA Debates COVID Booster Approval as Pfizer, Moderna Push Case

.Vaccine makers Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report and Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report are pressing the Food & Drug Administration to approve COVID booster shots for millions of Americans heading into the winter months.

An FDA panel will consider data submitted by both companies today and tomorrow, with a full decision expected late Friday. Moderna has argued a third dose of its mRNA-1273 "has a chance of significantly extending immunity throughout much of next year as we attempt to end the pandemic," while Pfizer has noted that waning protection from the virus likely means a booster dose of its 'comirnaty' vaccine may be necessary. 

President Joe Biden has thrown his support behind the idea of COIVD boosters, although the World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on extra doses, at least until the end of the year, so that poorer countries can access broader vaccine supplies. 

A key point of yesterday’s Investor Day presentation was CSCO’s large and growing opportunity set through 2025," said Credit Suisse analyst Sami Badri. "The management team touted its current business lines (with established market leadership amount to $260 billion, while markets CSCO is currently expanding into add another $140 billion in TAM (total addressable market). Beyond that, $500 billion of TAM is available for the taking as the future of work & automation grows the digital ecosystem."

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Pfizer shares were marked 0.13% lower in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $44.71 each while Moderna edged 0.12% higher to 435.00 each.

3. -- Cisco Systems Sees Software Boost to Near-Term Revenues

Cisco Systems  (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report shares moved higher Thursday after the network equipment maker told investors it expects to see greater revenues from software and subscriptions than its traditional core business.

Cisco told analysts at an investor day event Wednesday that more than half its revenues will come from software and subscriptions by 2025 -- up from 44% currently -- adding it expects topline revenues of around $63 billion by that time. The higher-margin business will also improve profits, Cisco said, forecasting a compound annual growth rate for adjusted earnings of around 4% to 7% per year and setting a mid-point 2025 target of $4.07 per share.

Cisco shares were marked 1.25% higher in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $58.28 each. 

4. -- EA Delays 'Battlefield 2042' Launch

Electronic Arts  (EA) - Get Electronic Arts Inc. Report shares jumped higher Thursday after it said delays in the launch of its highly-anticipated "Battlefield 2042" wouldn't hit the video game maker's bottom line.

"Battlefield 2042" will be released on November 19, a month later than expected, owing to what the group called "unforseen challenges" linked to the global pandemic, including chip shortages and supply chain disruptions. Electronic Arts eased investor concerns over the delay, however, when it reiterated its forecast for $7.4 billion in net bookings for its current fiscal year.

Electronic Arts shares were marked 2.2% higher in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $140.05 each, a move that would trim the stock's year-to-date decline to around 2.5%. 

5. -- SpaceX Launch Lifts First All-Civilian Crew Into Orbit

Jared Isaacman became the latest billionaire to join the global civilian Space Race late Wednesday as he and three others became the first non-professional crew to fly into space and circle the earth's orbit.

Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and CEO of financial services firm Shift4 Payments  (FOUR) - Get SHIFT4 PAYMENTS, INC. Report, had paid an undisclosed amount to SpaceX and Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report founder Elon Musk in order to lead the mission, dubbed 'Inspiration4', that will take the Crew Dragon space ship from 363 miles above the earth, where it's now circling the globe at more than 17,000 miles per hour. 

Isaacman said the launch took him and his crewmates ""right to the doorstep of an exciting and unexplored frontier, where few have come before and many are about to follow."

"The door is open now, and it's pretty incredible," Isaacman added.