Amazon, Blue Origin, Tilray and Alibaba's Jack Ma - 5 Things You Must Know

Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Sept. 20:

1. -- Stock Futures Rise Slightly on Wall Street

U.S. stock futures suggested a modestly higher start for Wall Street on Thursday, Sept. 20, as investors assessed the risk landscape amid rising bond yields and higher crude oil prices.

Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average  rose 43 points, futures for the S&P 500  were up 2.50 points, and Nasdaq futures rose 8.25 points.

Global oil prices have risen for three consecutive sessions with West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, crossing $71 a barrel and contracts for Brent crude, the European benchmark, rising closer to $80, following data that showed domestic inventories fell to the lowest level in three-and-a-half years.

Early Thursday, WTI crude was up 0.66% to $71.59 a barrel.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey for September at 8:30 a.m., and Existing Home Sales for August at 10 a.m.

Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI)  , the parent of Olive Garden, posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of $1.32, ahead of estimates of $1.24. Same-store sales rose 3.3% in the period, beating forecasts of up 2.1%.

Micron Technology Inc. (MU)  is expected to post results after the closing bell on Thursday.

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2. -- Amazon Plans Massive Expansion of Cashierless Stores

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is considering an aggressive plan to open as many as 3,000 new cashierless AmazonGo stores in the next few years, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with matter.

The online retailing giant, according to the report, is considering plans to have about 10 locations open by the end of 2018, about 50 locations in major metro areas in 2019, and then as many as 3,000 by 2021.

The company opened its first cashierless store near its headquarters in Seattle in 2016 and has since opened two additional stores in Seattle and one in Chicago.

CEO Jeff Bezos is still experimenting with the best format, one of the people told Bloomberg.

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3. -- Blue Origin to Take People to Space 'This Coming Year'

Speaking of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO said he will invest "just over $1 billion" next year in Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket program. Bezos also said Blue Origin, his space-launch company, will fly people to space "this coming year."

Bezos made his remarks during a keynote address at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md.

Bezos said a "big team of people" was working on the rocket's development, the Los Angeles Times reported. Blue Origin has said the rocket will be available in two- and three-stage versions, and already has netted several commercial satellite launch orders.

As for space tourism, Blue Origin expects to generate revenue with its New Shepard launch vehicle and crew capsule. "We'll be putting people in space this coming year," Bezos said. 

4. -- Tilray Takes Investors on Wild Trip

Tilray Inc. (TLRY)    fell 5.3% in premarket trading on Thursday after closing with a gain of more than 38% on Wednesday following an interview the cannabis company's CEO held with TheStreet's Jim Cramer on his "Mad Money" program on CNBC.

Brendan Kennedy touted his Canadian cannabis business as a smart hedge for the world's largest pharmaceutical companies

"Cannabis is a substitute for prescription painkillers, prescription opioids, and so if you're an investor in a pharmaceutical company or you're a pharmaceutical company, you have to hedge the offset from cannabis substitution," Kennedy told Cramer.

Tilray shares jumped more than 90% intraday on Wednesday, leading to the stock being halted several times throughout the session.

Real Money's Kevin Curran pointed out that even some of the most bullish analysts have struggled to keep up with the stock's minute-by-minute moves.

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5. -- Jack Ma Walks Back Pledge of 1 Million U.S. Jobs

Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Chinese retail giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) , has walked back his promise to create 1 million new U.S. jobs, saying that new tariffs levied by Washington and Beijing in recent months have undermined the plan. 

"This promise was on the basis of friendly China-U.S. cooperation and reasonable bilateral trade relations, but the current situation has already destroyed that basis," Ma said in an interview published late Wednesday by Xinhua, China's official news agency. "This promise can't be completed." 

A spokeswoman for Alibaba confirmed Ma's comments to CNN.

Ma first made his pledge at the start of 2017 following a meeting with Donald Trump, who was president-elect at the time.

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