Here are five things you must know for Monday, Dec. 18:

1. -- Wall Street looked set to open with strong gains on Monday, Dec. 18, and European shares were up sharply as global investors prepped for passage of a U.S. tax reform bill that is expected to boost corporate profits and increase share buybacks.
An anticipated vote on Capitol Hill this week could put the proposed $1.5 trillion tax cut on Donald Trump's desk, where he is expected to sign it. The legislation would give Trump his first major victory in Congress.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed at record highs on Friday, Dec. 15, as the GOP hammered out the details of the tax bill, which was released after markets closed.

Republicans in Congress released the tax plan late Friday amid expectations it would gain approval in Congress after Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Corker of Tennessee said they would vote to approve the $1.5 legislation. 

For Monday, the  economic calendar in the U.S. includes the NAHB Housing Market Index for December at 10 a.m. ET.
Earnings reports are expected Monday from Heico Corp. ( HEI) and Worthington Industries Inc. ( WOR) .
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2. -- Bitcoin prices began to converge slowly on Monday as the launch of a second futures contract linked to the cryptocurrency looks to have smoothed some of the gaps around global trading benchmarks as regulators set their sights on the $500 billion market.

The CME Group's debut of its 5-to-1 bitcoin futures contract, which is linked to a reference rate taken from a range of cryptocurrency exchanges, appears to have brought some level of convergence to the market, with its front-month product trading at $19,770 against a $19,670 price quoted for the similar week-old contact trading on the Cboe.

Spot bitcoin prices, which denote immediate purchases of the digital currency, were quoted at around $19,215 on the bitstamp trading platform, one of the main exchanges that feeds prices into the CME Group's calculation of its futures contract.

The narrowing differences between prices and markets suggested a slow maturation of a market which has seen an explosion of interest -- not to mention prices -- over the past year, raising both questions about the safety of retail investors piling into to this year's hottest trade and concern of global regulators.

3. -- Hershey Co. (HSY)  reached a deal to acquire Amplify Snack Brands Inc. (BETR) , the maker of SkinnyPop, for $12 a share, or a total of $1.6 billion including debt.

News of the possible deal was first reported by CNBC.

The price of $12 a share values Amplify at a 71% premium to its closing price of $7 on Friday, Dec. 15. 

The deal is one of the first big initiatives led by Hershey CEO Michele Buck, who took over earlier this year, CNBC noted.

4. -- In other acquisition news: Humana Inc. (HUM) is reportedly in advanced talks with two private-equity firms in a deal to acquire home-care provider Kindred Healthcare Inc. (KND) , The Wall Street Journal reported.

The deal would advance the trend of combining consumer health and insurance, the biggest being CVS Health Corp.'s (CVS) $69 billion acquisition of Aetna Inc. (AET) .

Meanwhile, Oracle Corp. (ORCL) said it would buy Australia's Aconex Ltd., a maker of cloud-based construction management software, for $1.2 billion.

5. -- "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," the blockbuster from Walt Disney Co. (DIS) , racked up $220 million over the weekend at the North American box office, landing the second-best opening ever and slotting it behind only its predecessor, "The Force Awakens," which was released in 2015, according to studio estimates.

"The Last Jedi" sold $450 million in tickets worldwide.

Updated to include confirmation of Hershey's acquisition of Amplify Snack Brands.

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