Here are the top news, trends, and analysis investors need to get their trading day started:
1. Dow strives for new records
(LR) Douglas Emhoff, US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Dr. Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden look down the National Mall as lamps are lit to honor the nearly 400,000 American victims of the coronavirus pandemic at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
The Dow futures rose Wednesday ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the nation’s 46th President. Tuesday’s average of 30 stocks broke a three-session loss with a 116-point gain, which took it just over 0.5% off its all-time high.
The flood of profits continues before Wall Street opens. Dow stocks like UnitedHealth and Procter & Gamble are on the program alongside Morgan Stanley. United Airlines will publish quarterly results on Wednesday afternoon.
- UnitedHealth said earnings were impacted by a rebound in demand for health services and an increase in costs related to its programs to improve customer access to Covid tests and treatments. Shares fell about 2%
- P&G raised its outlook for 2021 after sales rose 8% in the second quarter of the fiscal year. The shares rose more than 2%.
- Morgan Stanley beat estimates on Wednesday with quarterly earnings and earnings on better-than-expected Wall Street and wealth management results. Stocks gained more than 2%.
Netflix shares rose 13% in the premarket a day after the streaming giant announced it had exceeded 200 million paid subscribers for the first time – three years after passing 100 million. Netflix said it was “very close” to positive free cash flow and is considering share buybacks. The company beat estimates with fourth quarter sales but fell short of earnings per share.
2. Biden’s inauguration comes at an unprecedented time
A general overview of preparations for a dress rehearsal for the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden at the US Capitol in Washington, USA, on January 18, 2021.
Patrick Semansky | Reuters
Biden takes the oath of office at noon ET, takes the helm of a deeply divided nation and inherits a confluence of crises. Biden’s inauguration takes place due to the pandemic and increased security in the Capitol, where supporters of the outgoing President Donald Trump besieged the seat of the US legislature exactly two weeks earlier.
After the ceremony, Biden plans to sign more than a dozen executive orders to address a litany of challenges. The first requires Covid masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, in all federal states, and by federal employees and contractors. Many of Biden’s orders will reverse those issued by Trump, including the so-called Muslim travel ban and the building of a southern border wall.
3. Democrats take control of the Senate
Democratic Senate nominees Jon Ossoff (L) and Raphael Warnock (R) take to the stage during a rally with US President-elect Joe Biden outside Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Jan. 4, 2021.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in as US Senators from Georgia, who take their party control of the upper chamber of Congress in a 50:50 split with soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote.
A day before his resignation as Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell on Tuesday explicitly blamed Trump for the Capitol attack, saying the mob had been “fed with lies” and the outgoing President and others “provoked” the intention to Overthrow Biden’s choice. Trump’s impeachment proceedings in the Senate for incitement to insurrection will unfold after he leaves office.
4. Trump issues dozens of pardons, including for Bannon
President Donald J. Trump stops to speak to reporters as he boards Marine One and departs from the South Lawn at the White House.
The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Trump issued 73 pardons on his final night at the White House, including one for his 2016 campaign manager and former White House advisor Steve Bannon, who was accused of cheating on donors. Trump also pardoned Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer who was sentenced to jail for stealing trade secrets relating to driverless cars from the search giant.
Avoiding tradition, Trump will not attend Biden’s inauguration. He left Washington that morning on his way to Florida. Before boarding Air Force One for the last time, he extolled what he saw as his accomplishments. But he also referred to the pandemic in the past tense and called it “the China virus,” as it is known. Trump posted a farewell video Tuesday night announcing his economic and foreign policy records while glossing over the Capitol uprising and refusing to mention Biden by name.
5. Biden’s approach for Covid to be more central
A worker installs a US flag for display on the National Mall as part of a memorial honoring US citizens who have died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) near the Capitol ahead of the President-elect’s inauguration Joe Biden in Washington, USA, January 18, 2021.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
With the takeover by Biden, the U.S. fight against Covid will shift to a more centralized, federal government-led approach. Biden promises 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of its administration and plans to use FEMA and the National Guard to set up coronavirus vaccination clinics in the United States. The current pace of U.S. vaccinations is much slower than officials had hoped, with the virus death toll surpassing 400,000 on Tuesday – a quarter of that last month.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report. With CNBC Pro’s live market blog, you can see all of the developments on Wall Street in real time. Also follow our coronavirus and housewarming blogs.