Boeing, 'Rise of Skywalker,' Sarepta, Dow Futures, Trade Optimism - 5 Things You Must Know Monday

U.S. stocks are poised to again hit fresh record highs as optimism rises around the 'phase one' trade agreement between the United States and China; Boeing's Starliner returns to Earth; 'The Rise of Skywalker' makes $175.5 million at the weekend box office but still disappoints.
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1. -- Stock Futures Point to an Extension of Wall Street's Record Run

U.S. stock futures were pointing higher Monday, suggesting Wall Street would again hit fresh record highs, as optimism rose around the "phase one" trade agreement between the United States and China.

A move Monday by China to trim import duties on U.S. agricultural products, as well as certain semiconductors, suggested authorities were prepared to implement the "phase one" pact reached earlier in December.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 53 points, futures for the S&P 500 rose 6.80 points and Nasdaq futures were up 26 points.

Stocks set records last week after President Donald Trump said he had "a very good talk" with President Xi Jinping of China about the trade agreement and said China had started "large scale" purchases of agricultural products. 

The S&P 500 on Friday posted its fourth straight weekly gain. The Nasdaq has risen for eight straight sessions.

2. -- New Home Sales Highlight Monday's Calendar

The economic calendar in the U.S. Monday Durable Goods Orders for November at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index for November at 8:30 a.m. ET and New Home Sales for November at 10 a.m.

The earnings calendar Monday is light and the Christmas week will see few reports.

Stock markets in the U.S. will close at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday (Christmas Eve) and will be be closed for Christmas Day on Wednesday.

3. -- Boeing's Starliner Returns to Earth

Boeing's (BA) - Get Report Starliner unmanned spacecraft landed successfully in the New Mexico desert on Sunday after its troubled mission into space over the weekend.

"Touchdown! The BoeingSpace Starliner spacecraft touched down at 7:58am ET at WSMissileRange in New Mexico. This marks the 1st time an American-made, human-rated capsule has landed on land," posted NASA on Twitter.

During a press conference later on Sunday, officials from both NASA and Boeing lamented that the voyage failed to go as planned, but praised the information gained and opportunities for exploration ahead.

"Make no mistake, this did not go according to plan in every way that we would hope," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. But, Bridenstine said, the "NASA team and the Boeing team came together to do some amazing work ... it gives us a lot of great data to keep moving forward."

After a successful launch on Friday from Florida when the Atlas V rocket successfully projected the Boeing test spacecraft into orbit, the Starliner had also detached from the rocket as planned. But, then, the CST-100 Starliner failed to reach the right orbit, preventing it from making it to the International Space Station as planned.

The problem, according to Boeing’s Jim Chilton, was with the spacecraft's internal clock: It didn't sync up with the Atlas V rocket and was off by 11 hours. 

4. -- 'The Rise of Skywalker' Disappoints With $175.5M Box Office Weekend

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" made $175.5 million over the weekend, ranking it as the 12th-biggest opening of all time, but came in below analysts' estimates of $200 million.

The film, the final installment in the nine-part movie series, took in $374 million worldwide, according to studio estimates.

Walt Disney's (DIS) - Get Report Lucasfilm produced the movie.

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5. -- Sarepta in $1.15 Billion Licensing Agreement With Roche

Roche reached a $1.15 billion licensing agreement with Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) - Get Report which gives Roche the exclusive commercial rights to SRP-9001, Sarepta’s investigational gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, outside the United States.

Sarepta will receive upfront $750 million in cash and $400 million in an equity investment; up to $1.7 billion in regulatory and sales milestones; and royalties on net sales, which the company anticipates to be in the mid-teens. 

Sarepta will retain all rights to SRP-9001 in the United States.

 “As a mission-driven organization, we are inspired to partner with  the goal of bringing SRP-9001 to patients outside the United States," said Doug Ingram, president and CEO of Sarepta. "This collaboration will not only increase the speed with which SRP-9001 could benefit DMD patients outside the United States, but will also greatly expand the scope of territories within which we could potentially launch SRP-9001 and improve and save lives."

Sarepta shares were rising nearly 10% in premarket trading Monday to $138.50.