Here are five things you must know for Tuesday, June 18:
1. -- Stock Futures Rise as Fed Begins Rate-Setting Meeting
U.S. stock futures were rising on Tuesday and European stocks turned higher as investors reacted to comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that suggested further monetary easing just hours ahead of the start of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting.
Draghi laid the foundation for a potential re-opening of the ECB's controversial quantitative easing program, telling a conference in Portugal on Tuesday that the bank has room to buy more bonds in order to stoke inflation in the currency area. Draghi said the ECB's asset purchase program, which it uses to buy government, agency and corporate bonds in order to lower market yields and boost inflation, has "considerable headroom."
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 149 points, futures for the S&P 500 gained 17.45 points, and Nasdaq futures rose 71 points.
Prior to Draghi's speech, investors had been in a cautious mood with escalating military tensions in the Persion Gulf weighing on global market sentiment.
As for the Fed, traders are pricing in only a 20% chance of a rate cut from Chairman Jerome Powell and the Federal Open Markets Committee, with the balance of bets on a move in July that would take the key target rate to a range of 2% to 2.25%. The Fed will announce its decision on interest rates at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Tuesday includes includes Housing Starts for May at 8:30 a.m.
2. -- Facebook's 'Libra' Cryptocurrency Revealed in White Paper
The Libra Association, a group of 28 business partners working through a group that will be based in Geneva, Switzerland, will administer the global cryptocurrency, which will be used on Facebook's platform and is expected to be launched next year. The coins will be held by users in a digital wallet called Calibra, which will be connected to Facebook's two messaging platforms -- WhatsApp and Messenger -- and will be backed by a basket of global fiat currencies and "offer better, cheaper, and open financial services."
"This approach is similar to how other currencies were introduced in the past: To help instill trust in a new currency and gain widespread adoption during its infancy, it was guaranteed that a country's notes could be traded in for real assets, such as gold," the companies backing Libra said in their so-called white paper. "Instead of backing Libra with gold, though, it will be backed by a collection of low-volatility assets, such as bank deposits and short-term government securities in currencies from stable and reputable central banks."
"We've seen internet change the game for everything that could be digitized, except for money," David Marcus, the leader of Facebook's Calibra division, told CNBC.
"The numbers really speak for themselves. There's 1.7 billion people around the world that are unbanked, the same number are underserved by financial services," said Marcus, who before taking over Facebook's blockchain initiatives ran its Messenger division and was previously president of PayPal. "Now, anyone with a cheap smartphone has access to all the info they want in the world for free with a basic data plan. Why doesn't money work the same way?"
Facebook rose 1.6% in premarket trading to $191.98 following news of the Libra launch.
3. -- MoneyGram Gets $50 Million Investment From RippleMoneyGram International ( MGI - Get Report) soared in premarket trading Tuesday after blockchain startup Ripple agreed to invest up to $50 million in the company.
Ripple, the company behind the XRP cryptocurrency, agreed to buy $30 million of MoneyGram shares and warrants to buy stock at $4.10 a share. The deal also includes additional warrants for up to $20 million of newly issued stock, also at $4.10 a share.
MoneyGram closed Monday at $1.45 and was rising 138.6% in premarket trading to $3.46.
MoneyGram will use XRP and a platform for XRP transfers called xRapid as a back-office channel for managing its settlement operations. The two companies began working together last year when MoneyGram agreed to run a pilot program testing XRP. The agreement Monday was an extension of the initial program, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"Through this strategic partnership, MoneyGram will be able to settle key currencies and match the timing of funding with its settlement requirements, reducing operating costs, working capital needs and improving earnings and free cash flow," MoneyGram said in statement.
"This deal is a major milestone for the entire industry," said Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple's CEO.
4. -- WarnerMedia Nears $500 Million Deal With Producer J.J. Abrams
WarnerMedia, a unit of AT&T (T - Get Report) , is in final negotiations for a multi-year partnership with producer J.J. Abrams that is valued at about $500 million, The New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the matter.
Under the deal, WarnerMedia will get a first look at projects developed by Bad Robot, the media company run by Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath. The deal covers movies, TV shows, video games, consumer products, music and digital content for a WarnerMedia streaming service set to arrive early next year, according to the Times. It was unclear whether Abrams would continue to accept directing jobs at rival studios, a perk that was part of his previous deals, the Times noted.
Abrams' Bad Robot Productions produced TV shows such as "Lost" and "Westworld," and movies such as "Star Trek: Beyond" and "Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation." He also directed "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for Walt Disney (DIS - Get Report) .
5. -- San Francisco Could Ban E-Cigarette Sales
San Francisco could become the first city in the United States to ban all sales of electronic cigarettes as part of an effort to crack down on youth vaping.
City supervisors will weigh a ban on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in San Francisco until the Food and Drug Administration completes a review of the effects of e-cigarettes on public health, as well as ban manufacturing e-cigarettes on city property, the Associated Press reported.
If supervisors approve the ban Tuesday, the measures will require a subsequent vote before they become law.
Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among young people in the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that the number of middle and high school students who use tobacco products increased by 36% from 2017 to 2018, a rise attributed to the use of e-cigarettes.
Juul, the e-cigarette company, said it has taken steps to deter kids from using its products. "But the prohibition of vapor products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year," said Juul spokesman Ted Kwong.