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5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday


Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Dow futures rise after Fed keeps rates near zero

A trader works behind plexiglass on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 28, 2021.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Dow futures rose more than 100 points Thursday, one day after the 30-stock average and the S&P 500 dipped slightly and the Nasdaq rose modestly. All three benchmarks finished less than 1% away from Monday’s record closes after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at his post-meeting news conference that substantial economic improvement would be needed for the central bank to start dialing back its easy-money policies. On the fiscal side, the Senate voted to advance a bipartisan infrastructure plan Wednesday evening, a critical step toward Democrats passing their sweeping economic agenda. Dow stock Merck fell in the premarket after the drugmarker Thursday matched estimates with quarterly earnings and topped expectations on revenue. Amazon reports earnings after the bell Thursday.

2. Latest on GDP, jobless claims set before the bell

The latest snapshot of the economic recovery from the Covid pandemic comes at 8:30 a.m. ET, when the Commerce Department releases its first look at second-quarter gross domestic product. Economists expect an 8.4% annual growth rate compared to a 6.4% growth rate in the first quarter. The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. ET releases its weekly look at initial jobless claims. Econoimsts expect new filings for unemployment benefits to drop to 380,000 last week from the prior week’s 419,000. Initial claims for the week ended July 10 of 368,000, matched last month’s Covid-era low.

3. Robinhood to make its public debut after pricing IPO

Robinhood, whose stock trading app surged in popularity among retail investors, is expected to make its debut on the Nasdaq on Thursday. The initial public offering was priced Wednesday night at the low of the range at $38 each, raising about $2 billion and valuing the firm at about $32 billion.

  • Earlier this year during the initial meme stock frenzy, Robinhood angered some investors and lawmakers when it restricted trading in some popular stocks following a 10-fold rise in deposit requirements at its clearinghouse.
  • The company this week disclosed that it’s received inquiries from U.S. regulators about whether its employees traded shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment before trading curbs were placed at the end of January.
  • In June, Robinhood agreed to pay nearly $70 million to settle an investigation by Wall Street’s own regulator.

4. Facebook warns about growth, sets vaccine mandate

Facebook shares fell roughly 3.5% in Thursday’s premarket, the morning after the social network said revenue growth will slow during the second half of the year. Facebook cited a change in Apple’s privacy policies, which will hurt the social network’s ability to target ads. In its second quarter, Facebook reported earnings of $3.61 per share on revenue of $29.08 billion. Both topped estimates. Daily active users and monthly active users each matched expectations.

Facebook will require workers returning to its U.S. offices to be vaccinated, the company also announced Wednesday. “How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations,” Vice president of people Lori Goler said in a statement. Facebook will create processes for those who can’t be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, Goler said, adding the company will continue to evaluate its approach outside the U.S.

5. Disney, Apple bring Covid mask requirements back

Disney has amended the mask policy at its U.S.-based theme parks in the wake of new guidance from health and government officials. Starting Friday, the company will require all guests, regardless of vaccination status, to masks in indoor locations at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California. Children under the age of two are exempt from this mandate.

Apple will require both vaccinated and unvaccinated customers as well as staff members to wear masks in many of its U.S. retail stores starting Thursday, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC’s Josh Lipton. Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC that the company had pushed back its return to office plans for corporate workers from September to October and that it could be pushed back again.

— Reuters and CNBC Peter Schacknow contributed to this report. Follow all the market action like a pro on CNBC Pro. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC’s coronavirus coverage.

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