Here are five things you must know for Monday, Dec. 17:
1. -- Stocks Turn Lower Ahead of Key Policy Events
U.S. stock futures fell on Monday, Dec. 17, as investors remained cautious over the health of the world economy and remain focused on two key policy events this week.
With U.S. stocks having their weakest performance in December in 16 years, the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates Wednesday will be paramount in defining both the final trading days of the year and the broader market tone heading into 2019. Most Fed-watchers expect the central bank to raise rates for the fourth time this year on Wednesday but also will be looking for clues on tightening into next year.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 24 points, futures for the S&P 500 declined 1.90 points, and Nasdaq futures were down 4.75 points.
Meanwhile, slowing growth in China, which was in evidence last week amid the weakest domestic retail sales growth in more than five years in November, likely will form the focal point of President Xi Jinping's speech on the 40th anniversary of China's economic reforms Tuesday, which will be followed-up by a meeting of the government's central-planning working conference later this week.
U.S. stocks got crushed on Friday, Dec. 14, after economic data in China, the world's second-largest economy, were weaker than expected. All three major indices closed Friday's session in correction territory following the rout.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Monday includes the Empire State Manufacturing Survey for December at 8:30 a.m. ET, and the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for December at 10 a.m.
2. -- Malaysia Files Charges Against Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) - Get Report fell 1.1% in premarket trading Monday after officials in Malaysia filed criminal charges against the bank and two of its former employees as part of an investigation into a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal linked to a sovereign wealth fund.
Malaysia's attorney general, Tommy Thomas, said he would press for fines that were "well in excess" of the $600 million in fees received by Goldman Sachs, as well as the $2.7 billion that was allegedly misappropriated by 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB, the sovereign wealth fund at the heart of the scandal. Two former Goldman Sachs employees, as well as two others connected to 1MDB, will face the criminal charges.
"The charges arise from the commission and abetment of false or misleading statements by all the accused in order to dishonestly misappropriate $2.7 billion from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs," Thomas said in a statement from the attorney's office. "If no criminal proceedings are instituted against the accused, their undermining of our financial system and market integrity will go unpunished."
"We believe these charges are misdirected, will vigorously defend them and look forward to the opportunity to present our case," Goldman Sachs said in an emailed statement to TheStreet. "The firm continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating these matters."
3. -- Nissan Meets to Pick a New Chairman to Replace Ghosn
The board of Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY) is meeting Monday to pick a chairman to replace Carlos Ghosn, arrested last month on charges of violating financial regulations.
Ghosn, Greg Kelly, Nissan's representative director, and the automaker itself were charged last week in Japan for allegedly underreporting income.
The charges involved allegations Ghosn's pay was underreported by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015, according to the Associated Press. Japanese prosecutors said the allegations were the reason for Ghosn's arrest on Nov. 19.
The board meeting Monday comes amid an unfolding scandal that threatens Nissan's two-decade alliance with Renault SA of France.
The chairman must be selected from among the board members. Whether a decision will come Monday remains unclear, according to the AP. Three outside board members, racecar driver Keiko Ihara, Masakazu Toyoda, an academic, and Jean-Baptiste Duzan, formerly of Renault, are making that decision. There are nine board members, including Ghosn and Kelly.
4. -- J&J's Slide Continues on Report It Knew of Asbestos in Baby Powder
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report fell 0.6% in premarket trading Monday following last week's move that shaved $40 billion in market value from the consumer brands giant following a report that said the company knew for decades that its iconic baby powder sometimes contained asbestos and failed to alert authorities.
Reuters reported Friday that Johnson & Johnson knew both its raw talc and finished powder tested positive for traces of asbestos, a carcinogen, citing documents linked to a court case that saw a jury in Missouri award $4.7 billion to 22 women who said that the products contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson said the story was "one-sided, false and inflammatory" and labelled it "an absurd conspiracy theory."
J&J shares tumbled Friday more than 10% after the Reuters report was released.
5. -- Colin Kroll, Founder of HQ Trivia App, Is Found Dead
Colin Kroll, who co-founded the HQ Trivia app, died at 35 year old.
The New York Police Department said officers went to Kroll's Manhattan apartment early Sunday after getting a call asking for a wellness check on him.
Police found him unconscious and unresponsive on his bed, according to the Associated Press.
Kroll was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner's office will determine the cause of death. A number of reports said he died of an apparent drug overdose.
Kroll was the CEO of the trivia app, which live-streams short trivia shows to users and became popular after its release in 2017. He also was a founder of Vine, which was an app built around six-second videos, and worked for a period at Twitter.
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