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Stocks Cautious Into Earnings, Tesla Sales Record, Bitcoin Rally - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks edge higher with Q3 earnings, inflation in focus; Evergrande misses third series of bond payments; Tesla notches record September sales in China; Bitcoin has all-time highs in sight and Southwest vows to return to normal service following weekend cancellation chaos.

Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, October 12:

1. -- Stocks Futures Edge Higher With Earnings, Inflation in Focus

U.S. equity futures edged higher Tuesday, although global markets maintained a cautious tone heading into the start of the third quarter earnings season with a focus on surging energy prices, faster inflation and their combined effect on growth prospects in the world's biggest economies.

Investors were also unsettled by news that indebted China property giant Evergrande had missed a third coupon payment in as many weeks, reigniting concerns that its collapse could trigger contagion in regional bond markets.

Beyond that, however, many of the same issues continue to challenge markets this week, with oil prices trading near seven-year highs amid a global power crunch, benchmark 10-year note yields holding at four-month highs ahead of a $38 billion auction later this morning and earnings from JPMorgan  (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report, Citigroup  (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report and Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) Report kicking-off the start of the third quarter earnings season on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 5 point opening bell gain, while the broader S&P 500 is priced for a 1 point move to the downside. Nasdaq Composite futures, meanwhile, are set for a 25 point gain as benchmark 10-year note yields hold at 1.615% in overnight trading ahead of today's debt auction.

2. -- Evergrande Misses Bond Payments

China Evergrande, the giant property developer at the center of a corporate debt crisis in the world's second largest economy, missed its third bond payment Tuesday.

Evergrande, which is sitting on more than $300 billion worth of debt -- with around $100 million in payments due between now and the end of the year -- missed payments on three separate dollar bonds totaling $148 million, adding to concerns that only a 'fire-sale' of its unfinished developments, or a rescue from the Chinese state, will prevent it from collapsing into bankruptcy over the coming weeks.

3. -- Tesla Hits Another China Milestone

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report shares bumped higher Tuesday after the carmaker defied a sharp slowdown in China to record its best-ever September sales tally from the world's biggest car market.

Tesla sold 56,006 of its China-made vehicles in that market last month, data from the China Passenger Car Association indicated Tuesday, a 27% increase from August and the highest total since the opening of its Shanghai gigafactory in 2019.

The figures contrasted sharply to a near 20% decline in overall China car sales, the fifth consecutive month of declines, as the nation's power crisis, and the ongoing semiconductor shortage, lingers over the industry.

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Tesla shares were marked 0.57% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $796.45 each.

4. -- Bitcoin Has Record High In Sight

Bitcoin prices eased modestly lower in early Tuesday trading, but the world's largest cryptocurrency remains within sight of its April all-time highs amid a standout autumn performance in digital coin markets.

Bitcoin, in fact, has risen more than 90% from its July trough, even as regulators in China vowed to crackdown on digital currency transactions and miners have been hampered by a power crisis in the world's largest market.

In the U.S., where the SEC is mulling ways in which to bring bitcoin, as well as other crypto assets, under a common regulatory umbrella, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon added his thoughts on the need for oversight late Monday, telling an Institute of International Finance that bitcoin is "worthless".

"No matter what anyone thinks about it, government is going to regulate it. They are going to regulate it for (anti-money laundering) purposes, for (Bank Secrecy Act) purposes, for tax," he said.

Bitcoin was last marked 0.38% lower on the session at $57,300 each.

5. -- Southwest Sees Normal Service Return

Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report shares extended declines Tuesday as the carrier vowed to return to normal service this week following a holiday weekend replete with more than 2,500 cancellations and public dispute with its pilots' union.

Southwest said a staff shortage, coupled with 'air traffic control issues' and seasonal storms in Florida, contributed to a 'significant', but unspecific, number of flight cancellations over the Columbus Day weekend. FlightAware, an online tracking service, puts the total at more than 2,500.

The Federal Aviation Administration, however, has said there have been no staff shortages on its end, while SWAPA, the carrier's pilots' union, said its members were "not participating in any official or unofficial job actions" following reports that staff shortages were linked to recent vaccine mandates.

Southwest Airlines shares, which fell 4.17% on Monday, were marked 0.2% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $51.56 each. .