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Stocks Slump, Energy Prices Rip, Zuckerberg Hits Back - 5 Things You Must Know

Stock slump as energy prices stoke new inflation fear; natural gas hits fresh record peak, oil tests $80 a barrel; Zuckerberg hits back at Facebook whistleblower allegations, Walmart installs new COO as supply chain challenges mount and Biden says Senate Democrats may bypass filibuster to lift debt ceiling.

Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, October 6:

1. -- Stocks Futures  Slump As Energy Spike Stokes Inflation Concerns

U.S. equity futures slumped lower Wednesday, and looked poised to give back all of yesterday's gains, as a surge in global energy prices adds to inflation concerns that could stall the economy's post-pandemic recovery.

With oil prices trading at the highest levels in seven years, thanks in part to price spikes in coal and natural gas that has accelerated energy switching in major economies around the world, benchmark government bond yields are moving north in response to the anticipated inflation effects of the rolling energy crunch.

In the UK, where the nation's power grid relies heavily on natural gas imports, prices surged by 37% on Wednesday alone to a fresh record high of more than $40 per British Thermal Units, a level that is around eight times higher than spot prices in the United States.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes yields jumped to 1.552% in overnight trading, with investors now concerned for both the energy-related impact on inflation and the slowing growth prospects of power shortages around the world. 

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 365 point opening bell gain, while thee broader S&P 500 is priced for a 53 point move to the downside . Nasdaq Composite futures, meanwhile, are set for a 210 point decline.

2. -- Oil Tests 7-Year Highs, Natural Gas Hits New Record Peaks

Oil prices tested fresh seven-year highs in overnight trading, while U.S. natural gas prices printed multi-year peaks heading into the colder autumn season, as global power markets continue to soar 

A slower-than-expected recovery from Hurricane Ida in the Gulf region, OPEC's Monday decision to stick to its plans for slow and gradual increase in production over the coming months and a coal shortage in China that has spiked demand in the world's biggest energy market have all combined to boost U.S. crude prices closer to $80 a barrel in overnight trading, the highest since 2014.

Natural gas prices are on the move, as well, surging nearly 40% in a single day in the United Kingdom and rising nearly 1.5% in the U.S. to $6.40 per British Thermal Units.

WTI futures for November delivery were last seen 34 cents lower on the session at $78.59 per barrel while Brent contracts for December, the global pricing benchmark, slipped 30 cents to $82.27 per barrel, near the highest since 2014.

3. -- Mark Zuckerberg Hits Back At Whistleblower Allegations 

Facebook  (FB) - Get Free Report CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed both accusations from a whistleblower that the social media giant prioritizes profits over people, as well as a crippling error that shut down its platforms for six hours earlier this week, in a rare public post late Wednesday. 

"I'm sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn't reflect the company we know," the Facebook founder wrote. "We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It's difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives."

"At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted," he added.

 Facebook shares were marked 1.64% lower in pre-market trading Wednesday to indicate an opening  bell price of $327.50 each, a move that would mark a one-month decline of around 14.3%.

4. -- Walmart Installs New US COO As Supply Chain Challenges Mount

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Free Report shuffled portions of its senior leadership team this week, installing a new COO for its U.S. business, as supply-chain chaos challenges retailers around the world heading into the holiday season.

Chris Nicholas, a senior finance executive who has worked for U.K. grocery store giant Tesco plc,  has replaced Dacona Smith as U.S. COO, Bloomberg News reported late Tuesday, citing a company memo.

The change come as the world's biggest retailer begins its final holiday season push amid perhaps the most disrupted supply chains in decades, with shortages and delays expected to hit imports and boost prices.

Recent data suggests the base price of shipping a standard 40-foot-equivlaent container from Shanghai to New York has risen five-fold from pre-pandemic levels to $15,000, causing supply shortages from everything from clothing to shoes to furniture and household appliances.

The average waiting time for shipping vessels outside the port of Los Angeles is now around 8 days, with a backlog of 54 ships outside of Long Beach.

Walmart shares were marked 0.8% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $135.51 each, a move that would extend their year-to-date decline to around 7.4%.

5. -- Biden Says Senate Democrats Could Bypass Filibuster to Lift Debt Ceiling

President Joe Biden hinted late Tuesday that Senate Democrats could bypass the ongoing filibuster in order to pass legislation that would raise the debt ceiling without Republican support. 

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Biden said there is a "real possibility" that Democrats could remove the filibuster -- which requires a supermajority of 60 votes in the 100-seat chamber to move legislation along -- solely for the purpose of lifting the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling, which came in effect at midnight on September 30.

Democrats could also use the slower -- and more cumbersome -- tactic of reconciliation, but that could take as long as two weeks, pushing the debt ceiling suspension right to the brink of October 18, the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has estimated the government will run out of money, and not be able to service its existing debts, if the ceiling remains in place.