Apple Car, Tesla, Covid Stimulus Bill, Ripple - 5 Things You Must Know Tuesday

Congress passes a $900 billion pandemic relief package; Apple 'iCar' reportedly targeted for 2024; Tesla rises after falling sharply in its S&P 500 debut.
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Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, Dec. 22:

1. -- Stock Futures Wobble After Congress Passes Relief Bill

Stock futures edged higher Tuesday as investors looked past the passage by Congress of a $900 billion pandemic relief package and instead remained focused on the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus in the U.K. that has Wall Street worried it could spread and lead to fresh restrictions on businesses.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13 points, S&P 500 futures were up 8 points and Nasdaq futures rose 58 points.

The mutant virus strain prompted many European nations to ban flights to and from Great Britain. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put London and the southeast of England in full lockdown.

“Investors appear to be treading more cautiously ... getting more selective and probably waiting for the new mutant virus to be better understood before aggressively diving back into the airlines, travel and leisure-vaccinated bandwagon,″ said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi. 

Newly implemented lockdowns and others efforts put in place to control the spread of the variant virus strain dented any optimism over the $900 billion stimulus package that Congress passed late Monday.

The House and Senate voted to approve the relief package as part of a massive year-end spending bill.

The White House has said President Donald Trump would sign the legislation.

The pandemic relief bill includes supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 a week through March, and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans starting as soon as next week.

2. -- Apple Reportedly Targets 2024 for 'iCar'

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report has targeted 2024 to build a passenger vehicle that has both self-driving technology and uses the tech giant's own battery technology, Reuters reported.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that Apple’s “Project Titan,” which began developing a vehicle in 2014, has progressed to the point where the company will aim to build a car for consumers.

According to the report, Apple is focusing on a new design which sources said could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a person who has seen Apple’s battery design.

But pandemic-related delays could push back the start of production to 2025 or later, the report stated.

Apple was rising in premarket trading, up 2.58% to $131.54. Shares of Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report fell Monday after the Reuters report was released but were rising nearly 1% in premarket trading.

Apple is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stock? Learn more now.

3. -- Tesla Falls in S&P 500 Debut

Speaking of Tesla, shares of the world's No. 1 maker of electric vehicles finished their first day of trading as part of the S&P 500 in the red.

Tesla dropped 6.49% to close Monday at $649.86. The company, the most valuable company ever added to the S&P 500, had closed Friday at an all-time high of $695 as demand from index funds pushed the stock to a record.

But it appeared Monday that investors were cashing out of Tesla following its addition to the index. The Wall Street Journal noted that Tesla's slide Monday accounted for more than a quarter of the S&P 500's 0.4% decline.

It was the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 on its first day in the index, according to data from Dow Jones.

Tesla Is TheStreet's No. 1 Stock of the Year

Despite the declines Monday, Tesla shares have gained 677% in 2020. 

In premarket trading Tuesday, Tesla was rising 0.67% to $654.23.

4. -- Tuesday's Calendar: GDP, Consumer Confidence

The economic calendar for Tuesday includes the final reading for third-quarter Gross Domestic Product at 8:30 a.m. ET, Consumer Confidence for December at 10 a.m. and Existing Home Sales for November at 10 a.m.

Earnings reports are expected Tuesday from CarMax  (KMX) - Get Report and Cintas  (CTAS) - Get Report

5. -- Ripple Says It Faces SEC Suit Over XRP Cryptocurrency

Ripple Labs said it faces a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit over its affiliated token, XRP.

The SEC has “inexplicably decided to sue Ripple,” CEO Brad Garlinghouse said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. 

He didn’t specify the exact nature of the lawsuit but asserted that XRP was a currency and “does not have to be registered as an investment contract."

“The SEC has permitted XRP to function as a currency for over eight years,” he told Bloomberg. Garlinghouse said Ripple will challenge the suit in the courts “to get clear rules of the road for the entire industry in the U.S." 

XRP fell as much as 13%, touching the lowest level in about a week. XRP is the largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ether.