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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

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Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Getting pumped

Markets came through with a positive session Wednesday, with all three major indices posting gains. It’s been a shaky new year for stocks, hot off a strong 2023, as investors get their bearings in anticipation of potential Federal Reserve rate cuts. All eyes will be on the consumer price index for December, set for release Thursday morning, as well as Friday’s wholesale inflation data. Earnings season is also about to kick off. JPMorgan and Delta Air Lines lead the group that’s set to report before Friday’s opening bell. Citigroup, which is in the midst of a major restructuring, is also set to report Friday – and things aren’t looking so hot. Follow live market updates.

2. Plotting a course

Patrons shop for produce at a Mr. Pina Market in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023. 

Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Thursday’s fresh batch of inflation data could end up being a little too hot for market doves to handle. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect December’s CPI to have increased 3.2% year-over-year. While that’s well off the pace that compelled the Federal Reserve to jack up its benchmark interest rate, it’s still stubbornly high. That sentiment could disrupt market expectations, as investors are looking to regain their footing after a bumpy start to 2024, CNBC’s Jeff Cox notes. “The market seems to have gotten excited that the Fed’s going to have to do more than what the Fed thinks in terms of rate cuts now,” said Jack McIntyre, a portfolio manager at Brandywine Global Investment Management. “The market got ahead of itself.”

3. New beginning

SEC approves 11 bitcoin spot ETFs

Who’s ready for a new era in cryptocurrency? The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday – after a false alarm Tuesday – approved changes to rules that will allow the creation of bitcoin exchange-traded funds in the U.S. The move was long expected, and it gives credibility to an asset that’s been dismissed by many in the traditional finance world, including JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, as a dangerous investment. But the momentum is in bitcoin’s favor. As CNBC’s MacKenzie Sigalos notes, a spot ETF for bitcoin will make it easier and more affordable to invest in the cryptocurrency.

4. Shipping out

A ship transits the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea on January 10, 2024 in Ismailia, Egypt. 

Sayed Hassan | Getty Images

Houthi attacks in the Red Sea have already pushed ocean carriers to shift a great deal of cargo away from the key shipping route and around the southern tip of Africa. That, in turn, has resulted in longer shipping times and higher costs that could trickle down to inflation-weary consumers. The worst may be yet to come, though, as freight rates are set to jump significantly Monday. The retail industry is preparing for some potentially tough times, too, as Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen continue targeting merchant vessels. “The rerouting of vessels is leading to longer transit times and increased costs,” said Jon Gold, a supply chain executive at the National Retail Federation. “Unfortunately, the longer the disruptions occur, the more challenges will arise in ensuring supply chain reliability and efficiency.”

5. Bye

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #8 of the New York Jets sacked by defensive end Leonard Floyd #56 of the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter of the NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Elsa | Getty Images

Sacked. That’s it for Aaron Rodgers on Disney-owned ESPN’s “The Pat McAfee Show” this season, which removes one of the thorns in the media giant’s side. Rodgers, the New York Jets quarterback who’s reportedly paid big bucks by McAfee to appear on the show every Tuesday, has been outspoken about his anti-vaccine views and falsely suggested that ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel, a Disney employee, would show up in legal documents listing late sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein’s associates. Now Rodgers is off the show, and even the host himself said he was relieved. “There are going to be a lot of people that happy with that, myself included to be honest,” he said. That said, there’s still the issue of McAfee’s beef with longtime ESPN executive Norby Williamson, whom the host and former NFL punter had accused of trying to sabotage his show with media leaks.

– CNBC’s Brian Evans, Hugh Son, Jeff Cox, Jesse Pound, MacKenzie Sigalos and Lori Ann LaRocco contributed to this report, as did NBC News’ David K. Li.

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