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Stocks Gain, Biogen Slumps, Ghislaine Maxwell Faces Perjury Charges - Five Things Your Must Know

Stock futures bump higher following another set of record highs; Biogen shares slide as Samsung BioLogics denies takeover report; Johnson & Johnson booster significantly reduces Omicron hospitalization risk; Didi Global sees revenue slide after Beijing crackdown and Ghislaine Maxwell faces perjury charges following her conviction for sex trafficking.

Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, December 29:

1. -- Stock Futures Nudge Higher Following Twin Record Highs 

U.S. equity futures edged higher Thursday, extending the longest winning streak for the Dow since early March, as investors continue to take markets higher into the final trading sessions of the year amid fading concerns over the impact of surging Omicron infections. 

The S&P 500 closed at a record high for the 70th time last night, marking the strongest year of gains for the broadest U.S. benchmark since 1995, while the Dow also hit an all-time peak -- albeit in thin trading volumes -- as investors shrugged off concerns over rising infections and warnings from major chipmakers that an outbreak in China could extend the globe's ongoing supply crunch.

In Europe, the region-wide Stoxx 600 gained 0.28% on its final full trading day of the year, hovering just shy of its all-time peak, while Japan's Nikkei 225 closed out the year with a modest 0.4% decline that still leaves Asia's most active index at the highest levels since the early 1980s. 

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a modest 25 point opening bell gain, while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 5 point advance.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite is looking to open 40 points higher as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields ease to 1.522% in overnight trading.

2. -- Biogen Shares Slump As Samsung BioLogics Denies Takeover Report

Biogen  (BIIB) - Get Free Report shares slumped lower in pre-market trading after Samsung BioLogics denied a report that it's discussing takeover plans that would value the drugmaker at around $42 billon.

Biogen shares soared nearly 10% in late afternoon trading following the Korea Economic Daily report, which cited ties between the two groups including FDA approval of key treatments, but Samsung BioLogics issued a regulatory filing Thursday in Seoul calling the report "untrue"

Biogen shares were marked 6.1% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $242.56 each.

3. -- Johnson & Johnson Booster Shown to Significantly Reduce Omicron Hospitalizations

Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Free Report could be in focus Thursday following a study in South Africa that suggests a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine significantly reduced hospitalization risks linked to the Omicron variant.

The South African Medical Research Council study, which was based on a cohort of just under 61,000 healthcare workers, showed a second dose cut hospitalizations by 85% - an increase of around 22 percentage points when compared to the single course.

News of the improved efficacy will go a long way towards easing concerns over the variant's potential impact, particularly given the fact that U.S. infections are running at a record pace, and causing disruptions in sports, travel, business and education heading into the start of the new year.

Johnson & Johnson shares were little-changed from last night's close in pre-market dealing, indicating an opening bell price of $171.55 each.

4. -- Didi Global Sees Revenue Slide Following Beijing Crackdown

Didi Global, the China-based ride sharing group that is delisting from the New York Stock Exchange, posted a notable decline in third quarter revenues as it continues to feel pressure from regulators in Beijing.

Didi, which listed on the NYSE in June, was told by the Cyberspace Administration of China to remove its app from mobile platforms shortly afterwards amid an investigation into its data protection structures, a move many saw as a reprisal for its decision to raise capital in the United States.

Didi said revenues for the thee months ending in September fell nearly 2%, to $6.71 billion, while posting a loss of 25.91 yuan per share as its spends more cash on expanding to markets in Europe and South America. 

5. -- Ghislaine Maxwell Faces Perjury Charges Following Sex-Trafficking Conviction

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell will likely face perjury charges next year following her conviction late Wednesday of aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of underaged girls by her late husband Jeffery Epstein.

Maxwell, 60, was convicted of five of the six counts against her following a five-day deliberation by the jury in the months-long trial, and faces a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison. 

However, she will also face charges for lying during a 2016 deposition linked to a lawsuit brought by one of Epstein's accusers. 

Epstein took his own life in a Manhattan jail two years ago while awaiting charges linked to the abuse, which took place between 1994 and 2004.