Stocks Muted, Bankman-Fried Allies Plead Guilty, Under Armour and Micron – Five Things To Know

Stock futures muted as investors aim for Santa Claus rally; Bankman-Fried allies plead guilty to aid Feds; Under Armour taps new CEO; Micron announces layoffs; Zelenskyy to Congress: ‘Your money is not charity: It’s an investment.’

Here are five things you must know for Thursday, December 22:

1. — Stock Futures Lower as Investors Aim for Santa Claus Rally

U.S. equity futures were slightly lower on Thursday as investors looked to close out the last week of trading before the Christmas holiday in Santa Claus green.

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the S&P 500 were indicating a 3.75-point opening bell gain, while futures linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were priced for a 20-point drop. Futures tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq were indicating a 14-point move to the upside.

Stocks finished sharply higher Wednesday, as investors extended the previous session’s modest advance despite persistent recession concerns and a hawkish Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 526 points, or 1.60%, to 33,376, while the S&P 500 rose 1.49%. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite gained 1.54%.

U.S. Treasury yields fell on Thursday as the sell-off seen earlier in the week abated.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was down 3.9 basis points at 3.6452% while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond slipped 3.4 basis points to 3.7103%. The yield on the 2-year note dropped a single basis point to 4.2037%. Yields move inversely to prices.

On Thursday, investors await earnings results from Carmax KMX as well as weekly jobless claims data.

With only six trading days left in 2022, investors are looking to recover some of their losses, particularly in December, with the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq all down between 3.5% and 6.5% for the month. For the week at least, stocks remain in positive territory, with the Dow up 1.5% since Monday.

2. — Bankman-Fried Allies Plead Guilty as Feds Press Ahead With FTX Case

FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former Alameda Research co-CEO Caroline Ellison both pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, authorities confirmed on Wednesday night.

Wang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a message Wednesday evening. Ellison pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The charges were released the same night that former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was en route from the Bahamas to New York, where he faces eight federal criminal charges from the same prosecutors who accepted plea deals from Ellison and Wang. The duo’s plea agreements were signed on Monday, the day that Bankman-Fried was originally supposed to return to the U.S. before a court hearing in the Bahamas devolved into chaos.

Bankman-Fried was arrested last week in the Bahamas following his indictment in the Southern District of New York. He spent the last few days embroiled in contentious court hearings over whether he would accept extradition to the U.S.

3. — Under Armour Taps Marriott President Stephanie Linnartz as Next CEO

Under Armour  (UAA) – Get Free Report said Wednesday that it has tapped Marriott International  (MAR) – Get Free Report President Stephanie Linnartz as its next CEO, capping off a seven-month hunt for a new boss that the company hopes will reinvigorate lagging sales and grow its digital business.

Linnartz is the third permanent chief executive in Under Armour’s 22-year history but the second since 2019, when the founder, Kevin Plank, stepped away from overseeing day-to-day activities. She was one of 60 candidates being considered by the company.

Linnartz will take over on Feb. 27, the company said. She has worked at Marriott since 1997, helping to establish its website and app as ways to build customer loyalty. She is also on the board of directors at Home Depot.

Shares of Under Armour were down a little more than 1% at $9.80 in premarket trading. The stock is down more than 53% year to date.

4. — Micron to Lay Off 10% of Workforce Amid Chip Glut

Chipmaker Micron Technology  (MU) – Get Free Report on Wednesday forecast a much steeper-than-expected second-quarter loss and said it will lay off 10% of its workforce next year, citing a glut in the semiconductor market.

“Due to the significant supply demand mismatch entering calendar 2023, we expect that profitability will remain challenged throughout 2023,” Micron chief executive Sanjay Mehrotra said. Micron had about 48,000 employees worldwide as of September 1.

Reporting earnings Wednesday, Micron forecast second-quarter revenue of $3.8 billion, plus or minus $200 million, above Wall Street estimates. However, it also forecast a loss of 62 cents a share plus or minus 10 cents, more than double analysts’ estimates of a 30 cents loss.

Micron and other chip makers are suffering from plummeting demand less than a year after being unable to produce enough chips to meet orders. Consumers have shelved purchases of personal computers and smartphones amid rising inflation and an uncertain economy.

5. — Zelenskyy to Congress: ‘Your money is not charity: It’s an investment.’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country would never surrender in its fight against Russia and urged Washington to ramp up military aid in an impassioned speech before Congress that unfolded as the war enters its 11th month.

Speaking in a packed House chamber, a defiant Mr. Zelensky touted Ukraine’s successes on the battlefield and said the West was united in its opposition to Russia’s invasion. It capped a whirlwind, roughly eight-hour visit to Washington that included an Oval Office meeting with President Biden and a joint news conference at the White House.

“Against all the gloom-and-doom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking,” he said. He took pains to note that the aid provided by the U.S. wasn’t charity, but “an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”

The Ukrainian leader thanked Washington policy makers for approving tens of billions of dollars in aid for Kyiv. “Your support is crucial,” he said. But he added, “Is it enough? Honestly, not really.”

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