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Tesla and Bitcoin, Activision, AT&T, Chembio - 5 Things You Must Know Thursday

Stock futures rise amid optimism over earnings and recovery prospects; AT&T, Intel and Twitter report earnings; Bitcoin gets a boost from Tesla's Elon Musk; Activision is sued for 'frat boy' culture.

Here are five things you must know for Thursday, July 22:

1. -- Stock Futures Rise on Earnings Optimism

Stock futures were rising modestly Thursday as optimism about earnings and the economic recovery outweighed Wall Street's concerns about rising inflation and surging coronavirus cases.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 96 points, S&P 500 futures were up 10 points and Nasdaq futures gained 26 points.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose early Thursday to 1.305%. Yields dropped below 1.2% earlier this week as traders pared bets on any near-term moves on interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

“The delta variant of [COVID-19] remains an ever-present downside risk for the markets in the near-term,” said Craig Erlam of Oanda, “but as long as inflation remains only a temporary problem, it also keeps central bank hawks at bay.”

President Joe Biden, at a town hall in Cincinnati hosted by CNN, said Wednesday night "there will be near-term inflation" as the economy recovers but said he has been advised by his economic team that current price increases won't last as demand returns to normal levels.

Stocks finished higher on Wednesday as investors were encouraged by solid earnings reports. About 86% of the companies in the S&P 500 that already have reported earnings have topped analysts' expectations, according to Bloomberg.

Rallies on Wall Street both Tuesday and Wednesday recouped the losses from Monday's steep selloff.

2. -- Thursday's Calendar: Intel, AT&T and Twitter Earnings

AT&T  (T)  earned 89 cents a share on an adjusted basis in the second quarter, topping analysts' estimates of 79 cents.

Earnings reports are also expected Thursday from Intel  (INTC) , Abbott Laboratories  (ABT) , Union Pacific  (UNP) , Snap  (SNAP) , Twitter  (TWTR) , Biogen  (BIIB) , Freeport-McMoran  (FCX) , Dow Inc.  (DOW) , Southwest Airlines  (LUV)  and American Airlines  (AAL) .

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET and Existing Home Sales for June at 10 a.m.

Abbott Labs and Union Pacific 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 Gets Boost From Musk, Wood and Dorsey

Bitcoin rose to near $32,000, led higher by positive comments about the world's largest cryptocurrency from Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Cathie Wood.

Can Elon Musk, Cathie Wood and Jack Dorsey Save Bitcoin?

Musk, CEO of Tesla  (TSLA) , said the electric vehicle company might soon again accept Bitcoin for vehicle purchases.

“It looks like Bitcoin is shifting a lot more toward renewables and a bunch of the heavy-duty coal plants that were being used ... have been shut down, especially in China,” said Musk at a Bitcoin conference.

“I want to do a little more due diligence to confirm that the percentage of renewable energy usage is most likely at or above 50% and that there is a trend toward increasing that number. If so, Tesla will most likely resume accepting bitcoin,” he said.

ARK Invest's Wood said companies should consider adding Bitcoin to their balance sheets. 

Bitcoin rose 3.11% on Thursday to $31,834. It has gained more than 10.43% year to date.

4. -- Activision Is Sued for 'Frat Boy' Culture, Harassment

Activision Blizzard  (ATVI) , the maker of video games such as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” was accused in a lawsuit of fostering a “frat boy” culture, including years-long harassment and sexual bias against female employees.

The lawsuit was filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Female employees make up about 20% of the Activision workforce. They are subjected to "cube crawls" in which male employees "drink copious [amounts] of alcohol as they ‘crawl’ their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees," the complaint said.

The lawsuit also alleged that female employees were paid and promoted less than their male coworkers.

“We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind,” said a statement from Activision Blizzard. “We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue,”

“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false,
descriptions of Blizzard’s past," the company added.

The stock fell slightly in premarket trading.

5. -- Chembio Diagnostics Extends Sharp Gains

Chembio Diagnostics  (CEMI)  extended sharp gains in premarket trading Thursday after the medical diagnostics company received a $28.3 million purchase order from Bio-Manguinhos for SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests in Brazil.

The test is designed to detect the COVID-19 pathogen in only 20 minutes using a "minimally invasive" nasal swab.

Chembio shares rose 7.3% to $5.73 in premarket trading. The stock soared more than 159% on Wednesday to close at $5.34.

Investors on StockTwits were cheering the surge in Chembio shares. "With this much volume I am thinking we hit high 7s before any dip!!!!! LETS GO!" said one commenter.