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Apple, Gold, Disney, Markets and Beirut - 5 Things You Must Know Wednesday

Stock futures gain as Wall Street bets on fresh support from Congress and the Fed, Gold continues is record rally with a new all-time high, Disney surprises with a modest quarter profit and Beirut picks up the pieces from a deadly blast that has killed more than 100 people.

Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, August 5:

1. -- Stocks Power Higher on Stimulus Bets

U.S. equity futures traded higher Wednesday, while gold hit new all-time highs and the dollar continued its months-long decline, as investors looked to Congress and the Federal Reserve for fresh financial support to prop-up the stalling domestic economy.

.Congress is inching close to a new wave of support for the stalled U.S. economy, with White House officials vowing to work "around the clock" with Democrats in order to bridge the gap between their $3.2 trillion proposal and the Republican's $1 trillion counter-offer.

"Do we believe that we can get the kind of bold, strong bill that America needs?," Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer asked reporters yesterday, who hinted at a conclusion to the talks before the end of next week. "We do". 

Stocks are also benefiting from the spending spree, with the S&P 500 trading at levels last seen in early February and poised for further gains again today.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are price for a 180 point opening bell gain while those linked to the S&P 500, which has gained 2.3% for the year, are looking at an 18 point bump to start the Wednesday session

2. -- Gold Rally Continues as Dollar Sags

Gold traded at $2,030.72 per ounce in the Asia session Wednesday, after breaching $2,000 for the first time yesterday, while the U.S. dollar extended its slump against a basket of its global peers to trade at a two-year low of 93.008 on foreign exchange markets.

Gold, which has gained some 33% so far this year, was given further support from the prospect of another round of stimulus from the Federal Reserve, which San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly was likely needed amid a "long and vigorous" pandemic, penetrated asset prices.

In fact, governments and central banks around the world pledging a collective $20 trillion to combat the human and economic costs of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 18 million people and is killed some 5,900 each day, lifting gold and silver prices -- as well as digital currencies such as bitcoints -- amid concern for the degradation of fiat currencies. 

3. -- Disney Surprises With Streaming-Driven Profit

Walt Disney DIS shares ripped higher in pre-market trading Wednesday after the entertainment giant posted a modest second quarter profit even as it swallowed some $5 billion in costs related to the global coronavirus pandemic.

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Disney also said its recently-launched Disney+ streaming service had gained more than 100 million global subscribers, just over half the total boasted by online rival Netflix. 

Still, the gains didn't provide as much support to sales as investors had hoped, with Disney reporting revenues of $11.8 billion, down 42% from the same period last year and around $600 shy of analysts' forecasts. Nonetheless, Disney's bottom line of 8 cents per share was better than the Street consensus forecast of a loss of 64 cents per share, and the stock is trading higher Wednesday as a result. 

Disney also said it would release the long-awaited feature "Mulan" to the home streaming market on September 4, and plans to launch a Hulu-like service for international markets sometime next year.

4. -- Apple Tops Big Blue

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report shares edged higher in pre-market trading Wednesday, as the tech giant extended its drive towards an unprecedented milestone of a market value of $2 trillion while surpassing another Wall Street record set some forty years ago.

Apple's overall weight on the S&P 500, the broadest measure of U.S. shares prices, reached 6.5% this month, topping the 6.4% peak set by International Business Machines  (IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report in 1985. 

Apple shares have gained around 49.4% so far this year, and, along with Big Tech brethren Microsoft MSFT, Amazon AMZN, Google GOOGL and Facebook FB , comprise around 38% of the Nasdaq 100.

Apple is also closing in on the first $2 trillion valuation in market history following last week's blowout third quarter earnings, which included a 26% rise in over profits and a 13.4% gain in total sales, which came in just under $60 billion. 


5. -- Beirut in Shock After Deadly Explosion

The death toll following a catastrophic explosion in the Lebanese capital of Beirut Tuesday has reach at least 100, according to city officials, with another 4,000 reported injured in one of the worst man-made disasters in the region's history.

The blast, which occurred late Tuesday afternoon in the port district of Gemmayze, is thought to have been caused by the negligent storage of around 2,750 tons of Ammonium nitrate, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun told reporters.

However, the deadly blast also comes just days ahead of a court decision, supported by the United Nations, on the fate of four suspected Hezbollah terrorists in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was murdered by a truck bomb explosion less than a mile away from Tuesday's disaster.