Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, Jan. 2:
1. -- Stocks Slump as China Manufacturing Data Contracts
U.S. stock futures fell sharply on Wednesday, Jan. 2, the first trading day of 2019, and global stocks slid following weaker-than-expected manufacturing data from China that suggested the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing would continue to take its toll on global economic growth.
A key private reading of manufacturing activity in China, the Caixin-Markit PMI, slipped below 50, the level that separates growth from contraction for the first time in 19 months, according to data published Wednesday, while similar activity gauges around the region showed associated weakness in December.
The gloomy snapshot pulled stocks in China deeply into the red on Wednesday, with the Shanghai Composite falling 1.15%, extending the 25%-plus decline booked in 2018. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong plunged 2.8%. Japan's Nikkei 225 was closed for a public holiday.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 272 points, futures for the S&P 500 were down 29.50 points, and Nasdaq futures slumped 118.50 points.
Stocks in the U.S. rose on New Year's Eve but finished squarely to the downside in 2018. The Dow fell 5.6% for the year, the S&P 500 tumbled 6.2% and the Nasdaq slid 3.9%. The declines were the biggest for the three major benchmark indexes since 2008.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday includes the PMI Manufacturing Index for December at 9:45 a.m. ET.
2. -- Government Shutdown Enters Day 12
House Democrats released their plan earlier this week to re-open the U.S. government without approving money for Donald Trump's border wall and planned to pass the bills when the new Congress convenes on Thursday.
Whether the Republican-led Senate would consider the bills - or if Trump would sign either into law - was unclear. A spokesman for Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Donald Stewart, said Senate Republicans wouldn't take action without Trump's backing, the Associated Press reported.
"It's simple: The Senate is not going to send something to the president that he won't sign," Stewart said.
Trump has invited Democrats to a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Wednesday but it wasn't immediately clear, though, that Democratic congressional leaders would attend, according to The Wall Street Journal. Their leverage will grow Thursday, when the party officially takes control of the House and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California is expected to become speaker.
On Tuesday, Trump sent a tweet asking Pelosi to "make a deal" over his desired $5 billion in funding for a wall on the border of Mexico and the U.S.
Trump tweeted: "Border Security and the Wall "thing" and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let's make a deal?"
The government shutdown began on Dec. 22.
3. -- Activision Blizzard's Chief Financial Officer Reportedly Is Headed to Netflix
Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) said in a regulatory filing that it intends to terminate Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann "for cause unrelated to the company's financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures."
The video game company said Neumann was placed on a paid leave of absence; he joined Activision 18 months ago. Dennis Durkin, Activision's chief corporate officer, will become the company's principal financial officer.
Reuters reported that Neumann would be joining Netflix Inc. (NFLX) as its next chief financial officer and the streaming giant would be making an announcement in the next few days.
Reuters cited a source familiar with the matter who added that Neumann would start at Netflix in early 2019.
Activision shares fell 2.1% in premarket trading. Netflix declined 1.7%.
4. -- Netflix Pulls Episode of Comedy Show After Saudi Arabia Complains
Speaking of Netflix, the company removed an episode of a comedy show critical of Saudi Arabia after it received a complaint from the kingdom, the Financial Times reported.
The second episode of "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" focused on Saudi Arabia following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and included criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, according to the Financial Times.
"Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia. And I mean that as a Muslim, and as an American," Minhaj said at the start of the episode. He called the Yemen war "the biggest tragedy of the MBS era," referring to the crown prince by his initials.
Netflix confirmed it removed the episode in Saudi Arabia last week, after the country's Communications and Information Technology Commission made a request to take it down because it allegedly violated the kingdom's anti-cyber crime law, the Financial Times reported.
5. -- Big Banks Cut Back on Credit Card Rewards
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) , Citigroup Inc. (C) and other large banks, including American Express Co. (AXP) , have discussed how to cut back or rejigger some of the rewards their credit cards offer borrowers, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The banks don't plan to end the rewards, but would like to shift them in ways that encourage more card usage and scale back upfront bonuses, the people said.
Big banks assumed that large rewards would make consumers spend more, earning the banks more interest and boosting their returns. But they calculated wrong, according to the Journal, because borrowers have figured out how to game the system. Consumers often spend just enough to earn generous sign-up bonuses and then abandon the cards, while others pay their bills in full and avoid interest charges and late fees.
Rewards costs rose an average of 15% in the third quarter of 2018 from a year earlier at several of the big banks, according to bank analyst Charles Peabody, the Journal noted.