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Futures higher, FAA recommends more Boeing safety checks - what's moving markets

Published 01/22/2024, 05:22 AM
Updated 01/22/2024, 05:22 AM
© Reuters -- U.S. stock futures gain on Monday, in a possible sign of ongoing upward momentum after a tech-fueled surge in equities last week. The U.S. aviation authority recommends new safety checks on Boeing (NYSE:BA) planes that have similar features to a jet model involved in a mid-air door plug breach earlier this month. Sony (NYSE:SONY) pulls the plug on a mega-merger with India's Zee Entertainment, sparking a potential legal battle.

1. Futures inch higher

U.S. stock futures edged into the green on Monday, pointing to a continuation in an artificial intelligence-powered rally that pushed the benchmark S&P 500 up to its first record high close in two years in the prior session.

By 05:17 ET (10:17 GMT), the S&P 500 futures contract had added 14 points or 0.3%, Nasdaq 100 futures had gained 95 points or 0.6%, and Dow futures had climbed by 53 points or 0.1%.

The main averages on Wall Street all ended Friday more than 1% higher, fueled by an upgraded second-quarter profit forecast from server maker Super Micro Computer (NASDAQ:SMCI). The bullish outlook drove a steep jump in AI chipmakers Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD), as a well as a surge in the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index to a fresh all-time high.

Enthusiasm around AI had been bolstered earlier in the week by top contract chipmaker TSMC, which forecast a 20% increase in revenue this year thanks to soaring demand for the potential applications of the nascent technology.

Following a day of heavy volume on U.S. exchanges, the S&P 500 rose by 1.23%, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 1.7%, and the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.05%.

2. FAA recommends further Boeing checks

The U.S. aviation authority has recommended that airlines carry out inspections of door plugs on Boeing 737-900ER aircraft, saying that they have an identical design to a jet involved in a dangerous mid-air breach earlier this month.

In a statement released late on Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration said that operators of the 737-900ER are "encouraged to conduct a visual inspection" to ensure that the door plug is "restrained from any movements." The FAA said the move is designed to create "an added layer of safety."

The FAA added that some operators have "noted findings" with bolts on the 737-900ER in previous maintenance inspections of mid-exit door plugs. While it is not a part of Boeing's Max fleet, the 737-900ER has the same optional door plug seen in the U.S. planemaker's newer family of jets.

Boeing, which has already come under intense scrutiny in recent years over safety concerns, has faced further pressure since a non-fatal blowout on its 737-9 Max model operated by Alaska Airlines on Jan. 5. The FAA grounded 171 of the 737-9 Max planes after the incident.

3. Earnings season ramps up

Investors will be looking ahead to a slate of key earnings later this week, with big-name companies like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and 3M (NYSE:MMM) all set to unveil their latest results.

Analysts have predicted that the quarterly figures will help determine the staying power of the S&P 500's recent rally.

"If [...] we find out that the market has either gotten ahead of itself [...] or we get guidance from some of these companies that doesn't match the bullish sentiment that's being priced into them, that can be a real risk,” Steve Sosnick, Chief Strategist at Interactive Brokers (NASDAQ:IBKR) told Reuters.

Outside of the U.S., some of Europe's most high-profile tech firms are due to report, including chipmaker ASML (AS:ASML), computer accessories maker Logitech (NASDAQ:LOGI), software developer SAP (ETR:SAPG), and fashion behemoth LVMH (EPA:LVMH).

4. Sony ends Zee merger talks

Sony has terminated merger discussions between its Indian unit and Zee Entertainment, putting an end to a long-running series of negotiations over a deal that would have created a $10 billion giant in one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

The Japanese group said in a statement that it had been unable to extend talks surrounding the agreement beyond a Jan. 21 closing date. First announced in 2021, the tie-up would have brought together two media powerhouses in India during a time of rising competition in the country.

But Sony told Reuters that unspecified closing conditions of the merger were "not satisfied," adding that it was "extremely disappointed" but committed to growing its presence in India.

Zee, meanwhile, revealed in a securities filing that Sony was seeking a termination fee of $90 million and "emergency interim reliefs." It refuted Sony's claims and vowed to take "all necessary steps to safeguard the long-term interests of its stakeholders," including by taking legal action.

Reports suggested that the two companies were at odds over the leadership of the combined group, with Sony in particular refusing to allow Zee Chief Executive Punit Goenka take the helm of the business. However, Zee said on Monday that Goenka was "agreeable to step down in the interest of the merger."

5. Oil edges up

Oil prices moved higher on Monday, as worries about global crude demand were offset by ongoing geopolitical fears.

By 05:23 ET, the U.S. crude futures had risen 0.2% to $73.38 a barrel, while the Brent contract had climbed 0.2% to $78.68 per barrel.

The demand outlook remains muted. The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Internal Energy Agency and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries all expect demand for crude to slow this year. Analysts have also flagged that growth in the U.S. -- the world's top oil consumer -- is expected to have decelerated in the fourth quarter.

Counterbalancing these downward pressures on prices was continued violence in the Middle East over the weekend, with the U.S. striking another anti-ship missile being prepared to launch by Yemen-based Houthi militants into the Gulf of Aden. Attacks in the region, a crucial artery for shipping between Europe and Asia, have recently threatened to disrupt global trade by causing many firms to divert vessels away from the area.

Elsewhere, Ukraine allegedly carried out a drone attack on a Russian fuel export terminal over the weekend. Russian energy company Novatek said it had been forced to suspend some operations at the site due to a fire, Reuters reported.

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