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Intel, Google, IBM, Biden's Covid Plan - 5 Things You Must Know Friday

Stock futures fall as coronavirus infections spike and countries threaten stricter lockdowns; Intel tumbles after committing to manufacturing chips internally; IBM's revenue misses forecasts; Joe Biden unveils a national plan to combat the virus.

Here are five things you must know for Friday, Jan. 22:

1. -- Stock Futures Slump on Virus Concerns

Stock futures dropped Friday as optimism over the possibility of more economic support from the Biden administration and the rollout of coronavirus vaccines were overshadowed by the realization that it may take longer to get back to business as usual as infection numbers spike.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 262 points, S&P 500 futures slumped 30 points and Nasdaq futures declined 87 points. Stocks finished mixed Thursday, with the S&P 500 rising slightly but enough to set another record high. The Nasdaq also set a closing high.

President Joe Biden, who has been pushing a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package that includes direct stimulus payments to Americans, enhanced jobless benefits and funds for vaccine deployment, unveiled a national strategy on Thursday to tackle the virus.

Biden's plan starts with a national vaccination campaign to meet the new administration's goal of immunizing 100 million people during the president's first 100 days in office.

He also signed executive orders that call for masks to be worn in airports, trains, planes, ships and intercity buses. The president predicted that the national death toll from Covid-19 would top 500,000 next month.

"Our national strategy is comprehensive, it's based on science, not politics. It's based on truth, not denial, and it's detailed," Biden said Thursday at the White House.

Stocks in Europe tumbled Friday after leaders there warned that new strains of the virus could lead to longer and stricter lockdowns. 

2. -- Intel Tumbles After Committing to Making Chips In-House

Shares of Intel  (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report were falling after the chipmaker posted fourth-quarter earnings and an outlook higher than Wall Street estimates but said it plans to manufacture most chips internally by 2023.

The stock fell 4.9% to $59.40 in premarket trading Friday.

“I am confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally,” said Pat Gelsinger, who will be taking over the CEO post from Bob Swan on Feb. 15. “At the same time, given the breadth of our portfolio, it’s likely that we will expand our use of external foundries for certain technologies and products.”

Gelsinger said he would provide more details about Intel's strategy once he officially takes over the CEO role.

Many investors, including activist Dan Loeb, have suggested that Intel consider spinning off its manufacturing business. Keeping production in-house may be bad for Intel because its manufacturing technology has fallen behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing  (TSM) - Get Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. Report, which makes chips for many of Intel’s rivals, according to Bloomberg.

Intel reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.52 a share, about flat with a year earlier, but above forecasts of $1.11.

Revenue at Intel declined to $19.98 billion from $20.21. Analysts had been calling for revenue of $17.53 billion during the period.

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“We significantly exceeded our expectations for the quarter, capping off our fifth consecutive record year,” said Swan. “Demand for the computing performance Intel delivers remains very strong and our focus on growth opportunities is paying off.

3. -- IBM Slides as Fourth-Quarter Revenue Comes Up Short

International Business Machines  (IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report was falling in premarket trading Friday after the computer giant's earnings beat Wall Street estimates but revenue came up short.

Adjusted earnings in the fourth quarter were $2.07 a share vs. estimates of $1.79. Revenue was $20.37 billion, below Wall Street forecasts of $20.6 billion. Revenue fell for a fourth straight quarter and sales for the year declined 4.6%.

But IBM, which had suspended financial projections because of uncertainty during the pandemic, said it expects to increase revenue in 2021 and anticipates adjusted cash flow of between $11 billion and $12 billion this year and between $12 billion and $13 billion in 2022.

"We made progress in 2020 growing our hybrid cloud platform as the foundation for our clients digital transformations while dealing with the broader uncertainty of the macro environment," said IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna in a statement. "The actions we are taking to focus on hybrid cloud and AI will take hold, giving us confidence we can achieve revenue growth in 2021." 

The stock fell 7.57% to $121.69 in premarket trading Friday. IBM has risen 4.69% year to date.

4. -- Google Threatens to Disable Its Search Engine in Australia

Alphabet's  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Report Google said it would disable its search engine in Australia if it’s forced to pay local publishers for news.

Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva said a proposed law "remains unworkable."

She specifically opposed the requirement that Google pay media companies for displaying snippets of articles in search results, Bloomberg reported.

"If this version of the Code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia," Silva told lawmakers at a parliamentary hearing Friday. "That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search."

At least 94% of online searches in Australia go through Google, Bloomberg reported, citing the local competition regulator.

Facebook  (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Report, the only other company targeted by the legislation, also opposes the law. 

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5. -- Friday's Calendar: Existing Home Sales, Schlumberger Earnings

The U.S. economic calendar on Friday includes the PMI Composite Flash for January at 9:45 a.m. ET, Existing Home Sales for December at 10 a.m. and Oil Inventories for the week ended Jan. 15 at 11 a.m.

Schlumberger  (SLB) - Get Schlumberger N.V. Report, the oil services company, reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue above Wall Street forecasts.

The stock fell 0.8%.