5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday

Health, Fitness & Food

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

1. Dow takes aim at new records

(L-R) Douglas Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Dr. Jill Biden and U.S. 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

Dow futures rose Wednesday ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the nation’s 46th president. The 30-stock average on Tuesday broke a three-session losing streak, with a 116-point gain that brought it just over 0.5% away from its record closing high.

The flood of earnings continues before Wall Street’s open, with Dow stocks UnitedHealth and Procter & Gamble on the docket along with Morgan Stanley. United Airlines is set to report quarterly results Wednesday afternoon.

  • UnitedHealth said its profit was impacted by a recovery in demand for health-care services and a rise in costs related to its programs to make Covid testing and treatment more accessible for customers. Shares dropped about 2%
  • P&G raised its 2021 outlook after its fiscal second-quarter revenue rose 8%. Shares jumped more than 2%.
  • Morgan Stanley on Wednesday beat estimates with quarterly earnings and revenue on better-than-expected Wall Street and wealth management results. Shares gained more than 2%.

Shares of Netflix surged 13% in the premarket a day after the streaming giant said that its fourth-quarter results showed it surpassed 200 million paid subscribers for the first time — three years after passing 100 million. Netflix said it is “very close” to being free-cash-flow positive and is considering stock buybacks. The company beat estimates with Q4 revenue, though it fell short on per-share profit.

2. Biden’s inauguration unfolds in unprecedented times

A general view of preparations prior a dress rehearsal for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2021.

Patrick Semansky | Reuters

Biden takes the oath of office at noon ET, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises. Biden’s inauguration unfolds devoid of crowds due to the pandemic and heightened security at the Capitol, where supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump laid siege to the seat of the U.S. legislative branch of government exactly two weeks earlier.

Following the ceremony, Biden plans to sign more than a dozen executive orders to address a litany of challenges. The first will require Covid masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands 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 construction of a southern border wall.

3. Democrats to take control of the Senate

Democratic candidates for Senate Jon Ossoff (L) and Raphael Warnock (R) bump elbows on stage during a rally with US President-elect Joe Biden outside Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 4, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will be sworn in as U.S. senators from Georgia, giving their party control of the upper chamber of Congress in a 50-50 split with soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

One day before stepping aside as Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell on Tuesday explicitly blamed Trump for the Capitol attack, saying the mob was “fed lies” and the outgoing president and others “provoked” those intent on overturning Biden’s election. Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate for inciting insurrection will unfold after he leaves office.

4. Trump issues dozens of pardons, including for Bannon

President Donald J. Trump stops to talk to reporters as he walks to board Marine One and depart from the South Lawn at the White House.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Trump issued 73 pardons on his last night in the White House, including one for his 2016 campaign chief and former White House senior advisor, Steve Bannon, who was accused of defrauding donors. Trump also pardoned Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer sentenced to prison for stealing trade secrets relating to driverless cars from the search giant.

Eschewing tradition, Trump won’t be attending Biden’s inauguration. He plans to depart Washington in the morning. Trump on Tuesday night released a farewell address video, touting his record on the economy and foreign policy, while glossing over the Capitol riot and refusing to mention Biden by name.

5. Biden approach to Covid to be more centralized

A worker installs a U.S. flag for display at the National Mall, as part of a memorial paying tribute to the U.S. citizens who have died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near the Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2021.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

As Biden takes over, the U.S. fight against Covid is going to shift to a more centralized, federal government-led approach. Promising 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his administration, Biden plans to use FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics across the United States. The current pace of U.S. vaccinations is going much slower than officials had hoped as the nation’s virus deaths on Tuesday topped 400,000 — a quarter of which happened in the last month.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Get all the developments on Wall Street in real time with CNBC Pro’s live markets blog. Also follow our coronavirus and inauguration blogs.

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