Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Wall Street looks to break major three-day losing streak
- U.S. to deploy troops to help hospitals, distribute free Covid tests
- CDC says omicron is now the dominant Covid variant in U.S.
- Senate plans January vote on BBB despite Manchin opposition
- Nikola to pay $125 million to settle SEC fraud charges in SPAC scrutiny
1. Wall Street looks to break major three-day losing streak
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Dow futures rose more than 250 points Tuesday, one day after a big slide on Wall Street capped three straight down sessions on concern about a surge in Covid cases due to the omicron variant. Stocks that benefit from the economy staying open saw some relief-buying, with cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Carnival up 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively, and United, American and Delta Air Lines all rising more than 1% before the bell. Adding to premarket strength, Dow stock Nike jumped 3.6%, the morning following better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue, despite supply chain disruptions. So far in December, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.3%; the S&P 500 is flat; and the Nasdaq is down nearly 3.6%. The U.S. stock market is closed on Friday for Christmas Eve.
2. U.S. to deploy troops to help hospitals, distribute free Covid tests
The White House will deploy 1,000 military medical personnel to support hospitals facing a surge of patients infected with Covid this winter, and it will purchase 500 million at-home tests that Americans can order online for free with delivery beginning in January, according to senior administration officials. President Joe Biden will announce the plan in a speech later Tuesday. Last week, Biden warned that unvaccinated people face a winter of "severe illness and death," calling on them to get shots and boosters. The rapid sweep of Covid in the U.S. comes in the middle of the busy holiday travel season and at a time when families are set to gather.
3. CDC says omicron is now the dominant Covid variant in U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that omicron is now the dominant variant of Covid in the U.S., representing about 73% of the sequenced cases. The delta strain made up 26.6% of U.S. infections for the week ended Dec. 18. Just a week earlier, delta represented 87% of cases and omicron was just 12.6%. The CDC had previously published initial data for the week ended Dec. 11, showing omicron cases at 2.9%. It later upwardly revised that estimate. Omicron was first detected in southern Africa in late November and labeled a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization on Nov. 26.
4. Senate plans January vote on BBB despite Manchin opposition
The Senate will vote on Biden's sweeping $1.75 trillion social safety net and climate policy legislation in January despite Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition to it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wants to put every senator's position on the record. It's unclear whether Democrats would try to pass a smaller, similar measure that includes only parts of the so-called Build Back Better Act. In an interview Monday with a West Virginia radio host, Manchin said he wants to see his party send the bill back to congressional committees.
5. Nikola to pay $125 million to settle SEC fraud charges in SPAC scrutiny
Electric truck maker Nikola has agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $125 million to settle charges of defrauding investors by misleading them about its products, technical capacity and business prospects. The company's shares rose 3% in the premarket after falling 7% on Monday. SEC officials said they hope the penalty would serve as a warning to all companies hoping to enter public markets via a merger deal with a special-purpose acquisition company. Specifically, officials said statements from companies hoping tap public capital markets need to be wholly accurate.