Here are five things you must know for Thursday, December 16:
1. -- Stock Futures Power Higher With Fed Decision in Rear Window
U.S. equity futures powered higher Thursday, extending gains that followed yesterday's Federal Reserve rate decision, as investors looked to re-set growth and inflation forecasts amid slowing, but still ample, central bank support.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said yesterday that the U.S. economy "no longer needs increasing amounts of policy support" and outlined plans to reduce the amount of bonds the central bank purchases each month, with an aim to exhaust the pandemic-era program by March. While not explicitly stated, the deadline tees-up rate hikes for shortly afterwards, with fresh projections from other Fed economists indicating another two moves higher before the end of 2022.
While a relatively hawkish pivot from his prior views on inflation, which he continues to be troubled by, Wednesday's Fed announcements were largely anticipated by investors, who had entered the day with a cautious tone, and thus markets rallied firmly into the close of the session on surging trading volumes of 12.2 billion shares.
Those gains look set to continue Thursday, with policy decisions from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank on tap, as futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicate a 330 point opening bell advance .
Contracts tied to the S&P 500 are priced for a 40 point jump while those linked to the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite -- which gained more than 300 points last night -- are indicating a 125 point gain at the start of trading as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields hold at 1.451% in overnight trading.
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2. -- Apple Delays Return to Office As Covid Cases Rise
Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report has indefinitely delayed a formal return to the office for workers around the country, Bloomberg News reported, following its decision earlier this week to require masks at its U.S. retail stores.
Apple, which had planned for a full return by February 1, has yet to establish a new return-to-work deadline and also closed stores in Miami, Maryland and Canada as a result of rising Covid infections.
“We are delaying the start of our hybrid work pilot to a date yet to be determined,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the memo to employees. “Our offices remain open and many of our colleagues are coming in regularly, including our teams in Greater China and elsewhere.”
The U.S. recorded 201,786 new Covid infections Monday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, taking the seven-day average to just over 120,000, the highest since September.
Apple shares were marked 0.8% higher in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $180.71 each.
3. --Reddit Files Confidential Plans to Go Public
Reddit Inc., owner of the eponymous online message board, filed plans with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late Wednesday to take the sixteen-year-old company public.
While not disclosing any indication of price or IPO size, Reuters reported earlier this year that Reddit, which boasts more than 100,000 so-called 'community groups' and some 52 million daily active users, could be worth as much as $15 billion.
It also hired Drew Vollero -- a former Snap Inc. SNAP CFO who helped the message app maker go public in 2017 -- in March and has brought on investors such as Fidelity, Sequoia Capital and China-based Tencent Holdings.
4. -- Moderna Gets Booster Shot Approval in Japan
Japan's Health Ministry said a third dose of the messenger RNA-based vaccine can be administered to those aged 18 years and over -- the same range which is applied to boosters of Pfizer's PFE vaccine -- as it accelerates a program that has put shots in the arms of more than 80% of its population.
Last week, Moderna posted promising early stage data from its developing seasonal flu vaccine, noting a boost in titers against all four flu strains, even with lower dosages, with no significant side-effects.
Moderna shares were marked 1.3% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $285.50 each.
5. -- Bruce Springsteen Sells Music Archive For $500 Million
Bruce Springsteen, one of the most decorated artists in U.S. music history, has sold the rights to his iconic catalogue to Sony Music for a reported $500 million, Billboard Magazine reported late Wednesday.
The deal give Sony full ownership to both master copies and publishing rights the Springsteen archive, which includes the 1984 classic "Born in the USA", a 15-time platinum album that has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
The sale also reportedly comes just a year after American folk and rock artist Bob Dylan, sold his entire cannon of more than 600 copyrights, including those to culturally influential titles such as 'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'The Times They Are a-Changin' to Universal Music Group, a subsidiary of France's Vivendi SAl for around $300 million.