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Stocks Slump, Earnings In Focus, Airlines and Activision Blizzard - 5 Things You Must Know

Stock Futures Slump As Bond Yields, Oil Prices Leap; Week Ahead: Earnings in Focus After Mixed Q4 Start; Airlines Warn On 5G Disruption After Another Chaotic Weekend For Flights; Activision Blizzard Confirms Firings in Sexual Harassment Probe and GlaxoSmithKline Rejects $68 Billion Unilever Bid For Consumer Goods Division.

Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, January 18:

1. -- Stock Futures Slump As Bond Yields, Oil Prices Leap

U.S. equity futures slumped lower Tuesday, while Treasury bond yields leapt higher and oil prices surged to the highest levels in seven years, as investors look to kick-off another key week in corporate earnings gripped by concern over inflation and Federal Reserve rate hikes.

Benchmark 2-year note yields rose past 1% in overnight trading for the first time in nearly two years, reflecting investor concern for not only a prolonger period of faster inflation readings but also an aggressive response from the Fed, which could rate rates at least three times this year. 

The CME Group's FedWatch tool is pricing in an 88.4% chance of a hike in March, while JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon warned last week that as many as six rate increases could be needed to combat the fastest inflation in forty years.

The rise is bond yields is likely to dictate trading today, particularly in tech, where the Nasdaq Composite is down 4.8% for the year and trading in negative territory for the past three months. 

Oil prices will also be in focus after Brent crude neared $88 a barrel in overnight trading, the highest in seven years, following an attack on the United Arab Emirates by Houthi rebels from Yemen -- which are aligned with Tehran -- that has sparked concerns over supply disruption in the mid east region.

On Wall Street, futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 250 point opening bell gain while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 53 point slump to the downside.

Futures tied to the Nasdaq are indicating a 285 point opening bell gain as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields climb to a post-pandemic high of 1.831% in overnight trading.

2. --  Week Ahead: Earnings in Focus After Mixed Q4 Start

U.S. corporate earnings will be back in focus again this week as around 40 S&P 500 companies update on fourth quarter profits following a mixed series of reports last week from Wall Street's biggest banks.

Collective S&P 500 earnings are expected to rise 23.1% from last to $434.4 billion, according to Refinitiv forecasts, before slowing to an annual rate of around 19.5% for the whole of 2022.

Both JPMorgan  (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report and Citigroup  (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report topped Street forecasts when they reported on Friday, but their near-term outlook was clouded by rising expenses and lending uncertainty linked to the Covid pandemic, sending shares in each sharply lower by the close of trading.

Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Report, Procter & Gamble  (PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report, United Health  (UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Report, United Airlines and Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. Report highlight this week's earnings slate, with tech giants Apple, Microsoft and Facebook set to report over the week of January 25. 

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3. --  Airlines Warn On 5G Disruption After Another Chaotic Weekend For Flights 

U.S. Airline stocks slumped lower in pre-market trading following yet another weekend of flight chaos and a warning on the impact of 5G networks on aircraft navigation systems.

AT&T  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report and Verizon  (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report are set to roll out their 5G networks this week, even as the Federal Aviation Administration warns they could interfere with aircraft instruments and impact visibility. AT&T and Verizon have vowed to create 'buffer zones' in and around airports to limit disruption.

"Multiple modern safety systems on aircraft will be deemed unusable causing a much larger problem than what we knew," airline CEOs said in an open letter to the FAA that warned of "significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies."

The dispute follows another weekend of storm-led travel chaos, with more than 8,000 flights delayed and another 3,000 cancelled following snow and severe cold in the U.S. northeast.

United Airlines  (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report was marked 1.6% lower in pre-market trading at $46.00 each, while American Airlines  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report fell 1.4% to $18.23. Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report was marked 2.85% lower at $39.16 each.

4. --  Activision Blizzard Confirms Firings in Sexual Harassment Probe

Activision Blizzard  (ATVI) - Get Activision Blizzard, Inc. Report shares moved lower in pre-market trading after confirming it had fired or disciplined more than 80 employees in a months-long probe into allegations of sexual harassment at the video game making group.

Activision, which reached a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September, has set aside $18 million to compensate victims of the allegations and said CEO Bobby Kotick would take a modest pay cut as a result of the more than 700 reports of employee concerns at the company. 

However, the "Call of Duty" maker denied a Wall Street Journal report suggesting Kotick had held back a comprehensive report on the probe, with the company committing to periodic updates in the coming months. 

Activision Blizzard shares were marked 2.13% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $64.00 each.

5. --  GlaxoSmithKline Rejects $68 Billion Unilever Bid For Consumer Goods Division

GlaxoSmithKline's  (GSK) - Get GlaxoSmithKline Plc Report U.S.-listed shares surged higher in pre-market trading after the U.K.-based healthcare and pharmaceutical group rejected a $68 billion offer from Unilever  (UL) - Get Unilever Plc Report for its consumer brands division.

GSK, which is planning to spin-off the consumer group as part of a plan to boost investor returns, said Saturday that the Unilever bid "fundamentally undervalued" the division, which includes brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste and Panadol painkillers. 

Unilever hasn't said if it will raise its bid for the unit, which would be added to its own stable of consumer healthcare brands amid bit changes in the industry, including the separation of a similar division at Johnson & Johnson later this year.

GlaxoSmithKline shares were marked 3.1% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $46.87 each.