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Bitcoin, PayPal, General Motors, the Fed and Jackson Hole: 5 Things You Must Know

Stock futures rise despite mounting virus concerns; investors look to the Jackson Hole symposium for hints on future Federal Reserve policy; Bitcoin tops $50,000; PayPal launches a U.K. cryptocurrency service.

Here are five things you must know for Monday, Aug. 23:

1. -- Stock Futures Point to Wall Street Gains

Stock futures were rising Monday as Wall Street extended Friday's gains despite mounting virus concerns and as investors looked to the Jackson Hole symposium later in the week for hints on future Federal Reserve policy.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 161 points, S&P 500 futures were up 15 points and Nasdaq futures gained 48 points.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose Monday to 1.278%.

Stocks finished higher Friday, a bright ending to a tough week, as investors grappled with the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant, the impact of the virus on growth and China's continued crackdown on its tech sector.

For the week, the Dow dropped 1.1%, the S&P 500 slipped 0.6% and the Nasdaq declined 0.7%.

U.S. manufacturing and GDP data will be monitored this week as rising coronavirus infection rates across the U.S. and around the globe have investors questioning COVID-19's impact on growth and the overall economic recovery.

The Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole symposium begins Thursday, with a keynote address from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell scheduled for Friday. The conference will be held virtually "due to the recently-elevated COVID-19 health risk level,” said the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank on its website.

2. -- This Week's Calendar: Jackson Hole Retreat, Best Buy, Salesforce and Peloton Earnings

The economic calendar in the U.S. Monday includes the Markit Manufacturing PMI (flash) for August at 9:45 a.m. ET, the Markit Services PMI (flash) for August at 9:45 a.m. and Existing Home Sales for July at 10 a.m.

Data will be released later in the week on new home sales, durable goods, jobless claims, gross domestic product, personal incomes, consumer spending and consumer sentiment.

The Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole symposium begins Thursday and runs through Saturday. Its theme this year: "Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy." 

Earnings reports are expected Monday from  (JD) , Palo Alto Networks  (PANW)  and Riot Blockchain  (RIOT) , and later in the week from Best Buy  (BBY) , Salesforce  (CRM) , Snowflake  (SNOW) , Splunk  (SPLK) , Dell Technologies  (DELL) , Vmware  (VMW) , Nordstrom  (JWN) , Workday  (WDAY) , Marvell Technology  (MRVL) , Dick's Sporting Goods  (DKS)  and Peloton Interactive  (PTON) .

Earnings to Watch: Nordstrom, Best Buy and Marvell

Salesforce and Marvell are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.

3. -- Bitcoin Tops $50,000 for First Time Since May

Bitcoin was trading above $50,000 for the first time since mid-May after slumping several months ago and losing more than half its value.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency was at $50,153, up 1.68%, early Monday. Bitcoin has risen more than 72% so far in 2021.

“We’re seeing some very bullish signs here,” Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia-Pacific with crypto exchange Luno in Singapore, told Bloomberg, adding that Bitcoin could “test all-time highs again.

Bitcoin hit a record high of $64,829 in mid-April, according to CoinDesk. It has traded between $30,000 and $40,000 over the last several months as officials around the world intensified scrutiny of cryptocurrencies.

4. -- PayPal Launches U.K. Cryptocurrency Service

PayPal Holdings  (PYPL)  expanded its cryptocurrency services outside of the U.S., allowing customers in the U.K. to buy, sell and hold Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies beginning Monday.

The U.K. crypto services launch from the San Jose online payment services provider marks PayPal's first international expansion, which it hopes will lead to further global use of virtual coins and other digital currencies that may be developed by corporations and central banks, according to a report from Reuters.

PayPal in March began offering cryptocurrency buying and selling in the U.S., allowing customers to use digital currencies to shop at merchants on its network.

"We are committed to continue working closely with regulators in the U.K. and around the world to offer our support and meaningfully contribute to shaping the role digital currencies will play in the future of global finance," said Jose Fernandez da Ponte, PayPal's vice president for blockchain, crypto and digital currencies, in a statement.

PayPal is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells PayPal? Learn more now.

5. -- GM Slumps on Expanded Bolt EV Recall

General Motors  (GM)  slumped more than 2% in premarket trading Monday after the automaker recalled its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles for the third time in nine months because of a risk the car batteries could catch fire. 

The GM recall announced Friday adds about 73,000 Bolts from the 2019-2022 model years. The recall expands on earlier recalls of the company's 2017-2019 Bolts announced in November 2020 and in July of this year, the National Highway Transit Safety Administration said in a statement.

“At this time, GM is asking all Chevrolet Bolt vehicle owners to park their vehicles outside and away from structures, and to not charge the vehicles overnight,” according to the statement. Owners are being told to limit charging to 90% and to recharge after every use and not wait until the battery is almost run down.

In a statement, GM said, "In rare circumstances, the batteries supplied to GM for these vehicles may have two manufacturing defects - a torn anode tab and folded separator - present in the same battery cell, which increases the risk of fire." The company said it will "replace defective battery modules in Chevrolet Bolt EVs and EUVs with new modules, with an expected additional cost of approximately $1 billion."

General Motors is trying to get battery maker LG Energy Solution to pay for the battery fix. But LG, based in South Korea, said expenses will be shared depending on the results from a joint investigation into the root cause of the problem, Bloomberg reported.