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Virgin Galactic, Tesla, AMC and Wells Fargo - 5 Things You Must Know Monday

Stock futures trade mixed as Wall Street prepares for what is expected to be a robust earnings season; Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson soars to the edge of space in test flight; Elon Musk will testify in a lawsuit about Tesla's purchase in 2016 of SolarCity.

Here are five things you must know for Monday, July 12:

1. -- Stock Futures Mixed Ahead of Earnings Season

Stock futures traded mixed Monday as Wall Street prepared for what is expected to be a robust earnings season, particularly for big U.S. banks as the economy improves.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 150 points, S&P 500 futures were down 10 points and Nasdaq futures rose 28 points.

The three major stock indexes on Friday closed at records as worries about spreading COVID-19 variants and their impact on global growth eased. The S&P 500 has closed at a record high 38 times this year.

The Dow rose 0.2% last week and the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq each added 0.4%.

"Peak growth, high valuations, lower yields, and variant worries, we had a lot of scary headlines (last) week," said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial.

"Yet, in the end, stocks closed the week at new highs yet again. With earnings season kicking off ... the bar is set quite high and corporate America better produce another stellar quarter or there could be some disappointed bulls," he added.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect profits for S&P 500 companies rose 64% in the second quarter from the same quarter in 2020, a period when business activity was slowed considerably by the coronavirus pandemic. That would be the highest growth in more than a decade.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury slipped early Monday to 1.334%.

2. -- This Week's Calendar: Jerome Powell Testimony, Bank Earnings

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Monday is bare but data will be released later in the week on consumer prices, producer prices, jobless claims, regional manufacturing, industrial production and retail sales. 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will make his semi-annual appearance before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.

Second-quarter earnings season kicks off on Tuesday with reports from JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Free Report, PepsiCo  (PEP) - Get Free Report, Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Free Report and Conagra Brands  (CAG) - Get Free Report.

Reports are expected later in the week from Wells Fargo  (WFC) - Get Free Report, Bank of America  (BAC) - Get Free Report, Citigroup  (C) - Get Free Report, BlackRock  (BLK) - Get Free Report, Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Free Report, Morgan Stanley  (MS) - Get Free Report, Charles Schwab  (SCHW) - Get Free Report, U.S. Bancorp  (USB) - Get Free Report, UnitedHealth  (UNH) - Get Free Report and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing  (TSM) - Get Free Report.

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3. -- Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson Soars to the Edge of Space

Virgin Galactic's  (SPCE) - Get Free Report Richard Branson and a five-person flight crew completed a test flight to the edge of space Sunday on the company's VSS Unity space plane.

Billionaire Branson and his crew departed from Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America launch site outside of Truth or Consequences, N.M., at 8:40 a.m. local time and returned at 9:38 a.m. after a mission to test the private astronaut experience and evaluate the commercial customer cabin environment and conditions. 

Virgin Galactic has plans to launch space tourism trips next year.

The space plane reached an altitude of about 282,000 feet or 53 miles above Earth. It traveled at Mach 3 or about 2,300 mph, three times the speed of sound.

“I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth, because I feel like I’m still in space,” Branson said at a press conference following the flight.

He added that "99.99% was beyond my wildest dreams.”

The space plane returned safely with no mechanical problems at first inspection, according to Mike Moses, Virgin Galactic president of space missions and safety.

Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight beat rival billionaire and Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Free Report founder Jeff Bezos into space by nine days. Bezos’ aerospace company, Blue Origin, plans to launch its private space capsule into space on July 20.

Shares of Virgin Galactic rose 8.07% to $53.17 in premarket trading Monday.

4. -- Elon Musk to Testify in Suit About Tesla's Purchase of SolarCity

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report shares were rising more than 1% early Monday ahead of testimony from CEO Elon Musk in a lawsuit about the company's purchase in 2016 of SolarCity.

The two-week trial, taking place in the Court of Chancery in Wilmington, Delaware, will pit Musk against pension funds and asset managers who allege the billionaire used his control of Tesla to force the company to rescue solar panel maker SolarCity, saving it and Musk's investment in the company from bankruptcy.

The union pension funds and asset managers leading the case want Musk to repay to Tesla the cost of the $2.6 billion deal and to disgorge the profits on his SolarCity stock. If they win, it would be one of the largest judgments against an individual.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the acquisition a “clear black eye” for Musk and Tesla, largely because SolarCity has remain unprofitable.

“It basically was putting good money after bad,” Ives said. “For all the successes and all of the unimaginable heights Musk has achieved, this is one of the lowlights.”

The stock gained 1.12% to $664.30 in premarket trading.

5. -- Meme Stocks: Sgoco Jumps, AMC Declines

Meme-stock favorite AMC Entertainment  (AMC) - Get Free Report declined nearly 2% and GameStop  (GME) - Get Free Report, the original meme stock, fell slightly in premarket trading Monday.

But others, such as Sgoco  (SGOC) - Get Free Report, a conglomerate of various business based in Hong Kong, was soaring more than 53%, and Carver Bancorp  (CARV) - Get Free Report rose 16%, adding to gains of 170% over the past three sessions. The stocks were rising sharply amid retail-trader touts on Reddit and StockTwits.

Meme Stocks Like GameStop and AMC Reflect Market Reality