Stocks Jump As Energy Eases, GM Unveils EV Aims, Biden/Xi Plan Meeting - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks gain as energy prices ease; McConnell offers Debt ceiling olive branch; General Motors paves road to EV riches; Costco impresses with September sales boost and Biden and Xi unveil plans for some Zoom diplomacy.

Here are five things you must know for Thursday, October 7:

1. -- Stocks Futures  Jump As Energy Prices Ease; Jobless Claims in Focus

Wall Street futures traded higher Thursday, while energy prices retreated from multi-year highs, as investors looked to a short-term fix in the U.S. debt ceiling saga and an easing of tensions between Washington and Beijing. 

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's late Wednesday olive branch to Senate Democrats on the debt ceiling sparked the biggest single-day swing on Wall Street since February, with stocks powering higher amid speculation that at least one near-term risk may be taken off the table.

A bigger-than-expected increase in domestic crude stocks, which the Energy Department said rose by 2.3 million barrels last week, helped pull oil prices from their seven-year highs, while hints from Russian President Vladimir Putin on increased gas supplies to Europe clipped energy market prices on the Continent.

Europe's Stoxx 600, the regional benchmark, rose 1% as markets adjusted to falling energy prices and a possible breakthrough in debt ceiling talks, while Japan's Nikkei 225 snapped an eight-day losing streak to close 0.54% higher at 27,678.21 points.

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 195 point opening bell gain ahead of weekly jobless claims data at 8:30 am Eastern time, while the broader S&P 500 is priced for a 30 point move to the downside . Nasdaq Composite futures, meanwhile, are set for a 135 point boost as benchmark 10-year note yields hold at 1.531% in overnight trading. 

2. -- Debt Ceiling Olive Branch

Senior Democrat Senators suggested late Wednesday that they're prepared to accept a short-term deal, floated by Republican leader Mitch McConnell, that could temporarily raise the U.S. debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic default later in the month.

White House Spokesperson Jen Paski said Wednesday that no formal plans have been received as yet, but McConnell has said he'll support a specific, time-limited extension to the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling in order to allow Democrats time to pass a longer-term solution through the complicated process of reconciliation. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has estimated the government will run out of money on October 18, and not be able to service its existing debts, if the ceiling remains in place. 

3. -- General Motors Paves EV Path

General Motors  (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report shares moved higher Thursday after the largest U.S. automaker unveiled plans to double it annual revenue by the end of the decade.

In an investor day presentation after the close of trading yesterday, GM said plans to boost electric vehicle sales, expand its autonomous driving platform 'Cruise' and continue to produce combustion engine cars could collectively lift annual revenues to around $280 billion by 2030. 

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Expanded margins, GM said, would likely mean pre-tax profits of around $39 billion as a result, with CFO Paul Jacobson noting that the carmaker could commit as much as $10 billion in annual capital spending while still having enough to return cash to shareholders. 

GM shares were marked 1.71% higher in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $54.85 each.

4. -- Costco September Sales Impress

 Costco Wholesale  (COST) - Get Costco Wholesale Corporation Report shares bumped higher Thursday after it posted a massive September sales boost that bodes well for the bulk discount retailer's holiday season momentum.

Costco' said sales over the month of September, the first month of its fiscal first quarter, rose 15.8% from last year to $19.5 billion. Total comparable sales were up 14.3%, Costco said, with core U.S. comps up 10%. 

"Food trends picked up meaningfully in September vs. August, which we suspect is also being helped by strong in-stocks and potentially supply challenges in the restaurant space," said Oppenheimer analyst Rupesh Parikh. "Costco continues to capitalize on strong food at home consumption trends, inflation tailwinds, and an ongoing robust consumer spending backdrop for more discretionary purchases."  

Costco shares were marked 1.3% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $455 each, a move that would extend their year-to-date gain to around 20.75%.

5. -- Biden and Xi Plan Zoom Diplomacy

President Joe Biden will meet China's President Xi Jingping before the end of the year, administration officials said late Wednesday, setting up the first face-to-face talks between the two world leaders since last year's election.

The pair last spoke during a telephone conference on September 9 that broke seven months of silence between the two world leaders. 

The meeting will be held virtually, however, owing to the lingering impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has kept Xi within Chinese territory for the past two years. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, however, as well as his opposite number in Beijing hashed out details for the meeting during talks in Zurich.

Amid escalating military tensions in Taiwan, an ongoing trade dispute between the world's two largest economies and accusations of unfair business practices and political meddling from both sides, U.S.-China relations have remained cool for much of the past five years.

China's Foreign Ministry said the two sides have agreed to " take action to strengthen strategic communication, properly manage differences, avoid conflict and confrontation."