Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, December 29:
1. -- Stock Futures Edge Higher As Santa Rally Gets Back On Course
U.S. equity futures bumped higher Wednesday, putting the Dow on pace for its sixth consecutive gain, as investors continue to edge stock markets higher, while shrugging off Omicron concerns, over the final full trading days of the year.
Global oil prices were marked at a one-month high in overnight trading, with WTI futures for February delivery trading just under $76 a barrel, as investors grow incrementally more bullish on growth prospects once the current Omicron wave dissipates.
However, trading volumes remain light, with just over 7.55 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges Tuesday, a level representing around two thirds of the recent 20-day average.
Still, with overall U.S. Covid cases hitting a record high 258,312 over the past seven days, lead by gains in New York, California and Texas as the Omicron variant retains in dominance, investors are likely to remain cautious until more data emerges to confirm earlier studies that suggest it carries milder symptoms and a reduced risk of hospitalization.
On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 45 point opening bell gain, while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for an 8.5 point advance after failing to reach a 70th record close of the year last night.
The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite is looking to open 55 points higher as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields rise to 1.492% in overnight trading.
2. -- Apple Suspends Operations At Foxconn Plant In India
Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report shares edged higher in pre-market trading after the tech giant suspended operations at a Foxconn assembly plant in India following a dispute over working conditions and employee safety.
The plant, located near the city of Chennai, employs around 17,000 people and leads assembly of the tech giant's iPhone 12, as well as a small amount of the new iPhone 13.
Reports of food poisoning at the plant earlier this month, linked to one of its cafeterias, shut down operations on December 18, with Apple dispatching a group of independent auditors to inspect the site.
Apple shares were marked 0.15% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $179.56 each.
3. -- Musk Completes Option Exercise, Sells Another 934,000 Shares
Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report shares jumped higher in pre-market trading after founder and CEO Elon Musk exercised the final batch of stock options expected to expire next year, signaling and end to his current run on share sales.
Securities and Exchange Commission filings late Tuesday show Musk exercised options on 1.6 million shares -- first granted in 2012 -- taking his total to 22.8 million. He also sold 934,090 shares to raise money for the tax liability linked to the 1.6 million exercise.
Collectively, Musk has sold 15.7 million shares -- with around 10.3 million likely earmarked for tax liabilities -- since asking his 68 million Twitter followers in early November if he should dump 10% of his holdings in the clean-energy carmaker.
Tesla shares were marked 2.25% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $1,113.00 each.
4. -- Bitcoin Extends Slide, Now 30% From November Record High
Bitcoin prices extended declines Wednesday, taking the world's most popular cryptocurrency more than 30% from its November peak, as traders cash out over the final sessions of the year.
TheStreet Recommends: Here's Why Gold and Crypto Should Be In Your Portfolio Now
Bitcoin, which hit an all-time peak of just under $69,000 on November 10, has lost more than a third of its value over the past six weeks, with analysts citing a multitude of factors, including a hawkish Federal Reserve which boosts the value of the dollar and lifts market interest rates, thin trading volumes and year-end account closures.
All that said, Bitcoin is still up 65% on the year, with many of its proponents, including Ark Invest head Cathie Wood, forecasting another record run in 2022.
Bitcoin was last seen trading 0.1% lower on the session at $47,811.40 each.
5. -- AMD, Procter & Gamble Pull Out of Consumer Electronics Show
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Report and Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report added their name to a growing list of blue chip companies that have pulled out of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas due to increasing concerns over Covid infections.
The Las Vegas-based CES -- which attracts as many as 180,000 people each year as the tech and electronics industry's flagship event -- is slated to start on January 5. However, with U.S. Covid cases rising at a record pace, and companies from Apple to Google either delaying plans to return to office work (or in some cases closing retail outlets), attendance at a massive indoor event doesn't appear to be a risk many are prepared to take.
Amazon, Twitter, Meta Platforms and Pinterest have all confirmed that they will not send reps to Las Vegas, and the CEO of the conference's major sponsor -- Mike Sievert of T-Mobile -- will no longer be delivering its keynote speech.