This Thursday morning, U.S. index futures are showing an upward trend, in anticipation of the imminent consumer inflation data and the start of the fourth-quarter financial results reporting season, a crucial period for Wall Street investors and analysts.

At 05:40 AM, the Dow Jones futures (DOWI:DJI) rose 7 points, or 0.02%. S&P 500 futures were up 0.10% and Nasdaq-100 futures advanced 0.32%. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes was at 3.994%.

In the commodities market, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for February rose 1.56% to $72.48 per barrel. Brent crude oil for March was up 1.48%, near $77.94 per barrel. Iron ore with a 62% concentration traded on the Dalian exchange closed virtually unchanged at $136.42 per metric ton.

On Thursday’s economic agenda, investors are waiting for the December CPI data from the Department of Labor at 08:30 AM. The LSEG consensus forecasts a monthly inflation of 0.2% and an annual rate of 3.2%. This will test the market’s expectations for six rate cuts in 2024, challenging the forecast of three cuts. According to the CME Group’s FedWatch, the probability of a Fed Funds rate cut at the Federal Reserve’s March meeting is about 65%.

At 08:30 AM, the numbers for unemployment claims for the week until January 6 will also be released. At 12:40 PM, Thomas Barkin (FED) will speak.

European markets are in positive territory after several days of mixed trading, awaiting the U.S. consumer price index report. The Stoxx 600 is trading higher with most sectors in positive territory. Banks retreated, but automobiles and retail rose. A negative highlight for British retailer Marks & Spencer (LSE:MKS), down due to “short-term challenges,” despite strong growth in Christmas sales. On the other hand, Tesco (LSE:TSCO) rose after revising its profit forecast upwards. Another highlight is the mining company Antofagasta (LSE:ANTO), leading the gains.

Asian markets ended the day with positive results. The highlight was Japan’s Nikkei index, which rose 1.77%, surpassing the 35,000-point mark, a feat not seen since February 1990, closing at 35,049.86 points. Shanghai SE in China increased by 0.31%, Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong went up 1.27%, while the ASX 200 in Australia saw an increase of 0.50%. Only the Kospi in South Korea recorded a slight decline of 0.07%, following the Central Bank’s decision to keep interest rates steady.

The main U.S. stock indexes closed higher on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq up for the fourth straight day. The Dow Jones gained 170.57 points (0.45%), the S&P 500 rose 26.95 points (0.57%) and the Nasdaq advanced 111.94 points (0.75%). The market was optimistic anticipating the U.S. inflation reports, which could impact interest rate outlooks. Software and housing stocks performed strongly, while energy stocks fell due to declining oil prices.

For this Wednesday’s quarterly earnings front, reports from Infosys (NYSE:INFY), Northern Technologies International (NASDAQ:NTIC), among others, are expected.

Corporate highlights from Wall Street today

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) – Apple’s recent stock decline, due to concerns about iPhone sales, puts its status as the world’s most valuable company at risk, threatened by Microsoft. Apple’s shares fell 4% in 2024, while Microsoft rose 2%. Additionally, the U.S. International Trade Commission rejected, on Wednesday, Apple’s request for suspension pending appeal in a case related to the sale of its main smartwatches, according to court documentation.

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) – Google is laying off hundreds of employees across various teams, including the voice assistant unit and the hardware team responsible for Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit, while Fitbit’s co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are also leaving the company. The reorganization aims to cut costs, amid competition with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and the growing adoption of generative AI technology.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) – Amazon.com will lay off hundreds of employees in its streaming and studio operations, extending job cuts into 2024. Teams at Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios in the Americas will be affected. The company is focusing on high-impact projects following massive job cuts in 2022. Additionally, Amazon failed to address EU antitrust concerns about its $1.4 billion acquisition of iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT), not presenting solutions by the deadline, possibly resulting in unconditional approval or EU veto.

Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) – Max Schrems’ privacy advocacy group Noyb expanded its complaint against Meta Platforms’ ad-free subscription service. They asked the Austrian privacy watchdog to investigate the difficulties users face in withdrawing consent for tracking. The complaint alleges that the consent withdrawal process is complicated and calls for corrective measures, including fines. Additionally, Turkey’s Competition Authority fined Meta $160,000 per day for lacking proper documentation in a 2022 online video advertising investigation. The fine started on December 12 and continues until Meta presents a satisfactory compliance solution.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) – Netflix’s ad-supported tier reached over 23 million monthly active users worldwide after its launch in November 2022 across 12 markets. Netflix raised prices for ad-free options to boost usage of the ad tier, which now attracts 85% of customers to stream for more than two hours daily. The company is projected to lead the race for U.S. advertising dollars next year, surpassing Disney+ (NYSE:DIS).

Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA) – Skydance Media CEO David Ellison is exploring a cash offer to acquire Paramount Global, owned by National Amusements. He is seeking funds from Skydance investors, eyeing a possible merger, but talks are preliminary. Shari Redstone, who controls Paramount, considers a sale due to devaluation and changes in the entertainment landscape. Paramount’s estimated value is $38.8 billion, though no official comment has been made by the involved parties.

SAP (NYSE:SAP) – The German software company SAP agreed to pay about $222 million to end bribery investigations in seven countries, including charges of conspiring to bribe government officials in Indonesia and South Africa. SAP assumed responsibility for corrupt practices and will face a criminal fine of $118.8 million and $103.4 million in forfeiture. The company welcomed the agreements, ending all U.S. and South Africa compliance investigations, involving bribery schemes from 2013 to 2022, including falsifying records.

Thomson Reuters (NYSE:TRI) – Thomson Reuters made an offer of about $627 million to acquire electronic billing and tax solutions company Pagero, surpassing Vertex‘s (NASDAQ:VERX) previous proposal. The offer of 40 crowns per share represents an 11% premium over Wednesday’s closing. Pagero changed its recommendation to accept Thomson Reuters’ offer, looking to expand its indirect tax offerings. The offer acceptance period runs from January 12 to February 9.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) – Tiger Woods and Nike ended their 27-year partnership. The “TW” logo ownership has always belonged to Woods, indicating he may use it in future golf apparel sponsorships. Nike could initiate a legal dispute, but experts believe this would harm its image.

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) – Walmart temporarily closed about a dozen stores on the East Coast due to power outages caused by a winter storm. The company downplayed the business impact, as people were buying essential foods. Other companies like Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) also faced challenges but remained open, providing critical supplies. Chipotle had adjusted hours, but no major impact, while Target (NYSE:TGT) and Kroger (NYSE:KR) operated normally.

Smith Douglas Homes – Smith Douglas Homes priced its initial public offering at $21 per share, reaching the high end of its estimate, planning to raise about $161.5 million with 7.69 million shares. The Atlanta-based company is one of the fastest-growing private homebuilders, specializing in entry-level homes in the South, recording a net profit of $93.5 million and revenue of $547.3 million in the nine months ended September 30, compared to the previous year.

KB Home (NYSE:KBH) – KB Home reported a significant increase in orders at the start of the first quarter of 2024 due to lower mortgage rates, predicting a possible drop in house prices for the next fiscal year. In the fourth quarter, it beat expectations with a net profit of $150.3 million and revenue of $1.67 billion, but with a decrease in delivered houses and average price. KB Home forecasts an average selling price between $480,000 and $490,000, with estimated revenues of $6.4 billion to $6.8 billion.

Boeing (NYSE:BA), Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK), United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) – Alaska Airlines canceled all 737 MAX 9 jet flights until Saturday, awaiting regulatory approvals following a “quality” issue in the cockpit panel. The FAA grounded 171 Boeing jets, including 65 from Alaska Airlines. United Airlines also canceled flights. The suspension highlights ongoing safety and supply concerns at Boeing.

Ryanair (NASDAQ:RYAAY) – Ryanair requested a reduction in air taxes and airport fees in Germany, aiming to possibly double its traffic in the country over the next six years if Berlin meets the low-cost airline’s requests. CEO Michael O’Leary emphasized that German air taxes and airport fees are among the highest in Europe, reinforcing the pursuit of lower costs in Europe’s largest market.

Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN), MicroStrategy (NASDAQ:MSTR), Marathon Digital (NASDAQ:MARA) – Stocks are up in pre-market trading following the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval of the launch of the first Bitcoin exchange-traded funds. This could simplify and make Bitcoin (COIN:BTCUSD) purchases more accessible to individual investors.

Mastercard (NYSE:MA) – On Wednesday, Mastercard reached a milestone of $400 billion for the first time, driven by confidence in consumer spending and digital payment methods. With a market capitalization of $401.6 billion, the company is now the 15th largest in the U.S., surpassing Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). Mastercard’s shares have appreciated 117% over the past five years, outperforming the S&P 500 and Visa (NYSE:V).

Citigroup (NYSE:C) – Citigroup revealed combined charges and reserves of about $3.8 billion, impacting its fourth-quarter results, to be announced on Friday. They include reserves of $1.3 billion for international risks and restructuring charges of $780 million related to internal reorganization. There was also an expense of approximately $1.7 billion to replenish a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. fund, related to previous bank collapses.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) – Morgan Stanley promoted 155 employees to managing directors in 2024, a reduction from the 184 of the previous year. Of these, 37% are women, and 29% of managing directors in the U.S. are ethnically diverse. The bank follows Wall Street’s trend with fewer promotions this year, reflecting a challenging scenario for investment banks in 2023 due to declines in trading activity and mergers and acquisitions.

Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) disclosed that it increased its stake in Occidental Petroleum to 34%, according to a statement submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday night.

AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) – AbbVie is confident in maintaining its strong market share in the aesthetic segment of Botox, despite competition from anti-wrinkle injections such as Revance Therapeutics‘ (NASDAQ:RVNC) Daxxify and Evolus‘ (NASDAQ:EOLS) Jeuveau. The company holds a market lead of about 68% and is seeing gains in the cosmetic filler market. The acquisition of Allergan in 2020 strengthened its position. Additionally, its drugs Skyrizi and Rinvoq are performing well in inflammatory bowel disease and are expected to surpass Humira’s peak sales by 2027.

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