Stocks Edge Higher, Tesla, Twitter, Retail Trading And Gas Prices In Focus – Five Things You Must Know

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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, June 9:

1. — Stock Futures Cautiously Higher As Inflation Grips Markets

U.S. equity futures edged cautiously higher Thursday as investors picked through a mixed set of headlines from China and eyed a key interest rate decision from the European Central Bank ahead of tomorrow’s crucial inflation reading. 

A big rebound in China exports, which soared nearly 17% from last year in the month of May as factories roared back to life following the easing of Covid restrictions, was tempered by news that Shanghai is looking to resume lockdowns in the country’s biggest city following the identification of new Covid infections. 

The news trimmed gains for both regional and European stocks, where investors are awaiting a major policy decision from President Christine Lagarde. No changes are expected in the ECB’s suite of record low interest rates, but traders are betting that its long-running quantitative easing program will come to an end, and rates hikes will be clearly forecasted for the end of summer as the region looks to tame record high inflation while gently protecting its modest growth prospects. 

The region-wide Stoxx 600 was marked 1.03% lower in early Frankfurt trading, following on form a 0.5% decline for Asia’s MSCI ex-Japan benchmark.

In the U.S, weekly jobless claims data will be published at 8:30 am Eastern time as investors adopt a cautious stance on risk ahead of tomorrow’s May inflation reading, which is expected to show a modest easing in core consumer price pressures.

Soaring oil and energy prices, however, will likely keep that headline rate unchanged at a near forty-year high of 8.3%.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields were last seen little-changed from Wednesday’s close at 3.012% while the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, slipped 0.02% to 102.525.

On Wall Street, futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicating a modest 82 point opening bell gain while those linked the S&P 500 are priced for a 12.5 point move to the upside. Futures linked to the Nasdaq are looking at 50 point opening bell gain.

2. — Tesla Shares Higher On Solid China Sales Data, UBS Boost

Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report shares moved firmly higher in pre-market trading following data from China showing a solid rebound in May sales and exports from the world’s biggest car market. 

Tesla sold 32,165 China-made cars last month, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said Thursday, up from just 1,152 in April when the group’s Shanghai gigafactory was closed for 22 days amid the city’s strict Covid lockdown. 

The Shanghai factory, which re-opened on April 19 and resumed exports on May 11, produced 33,544 cars over the month of May, a 212% increase from the previous month.

Tesla also got a boost from UBS, which upgraded the carmaker to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’, with a $1,100 price target, citing its record-breaking order book and the potential impact from new factories in Austin and Berlin.

Tesla shares were marked 2.9% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $746.62 each.

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Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Twitter Inc. Report shares edged lower in pre-market trading after the micro-blogging website reportedly agreed to share a “firehose’ of data with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in order to placate his concerns over the level of fake accounts and bots on the platform.

The Washington Post reported the Twitter will hand over detailed data of the more than 500 million Tweets posted on the platform each day, including the accounts from which they originate and the devices they originate from.

Musk has been critical of Twitter’s calculations on so-called fake accounts — even after having waived his right to due diligence on his $44 billion takeover bid — and questioned the group’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that peg the number at less than 5% of total users.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that as many as 70% of Musk’s nearly 100 million followers are spam, fake or inactive, citing data from audience-research software group SparkToro LLC.

Twitter shares were marked 0.35% lower in premarket trading to indicate an opening bell price of $40.30 each, a move that would still leave the stock around 25.6% shy of Musk’s ‘best and final’ offer of $54.20 per share.

4. — SEC Unveils Plans To Overhaul Payment For Order Flow

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler unveiled sweeping changes to Wall Street’s retail trading rules late Wednesday while hinting at a major overhaul of key practice for retail brokerages.

Gensler said so-called ‘payment for order flow’, which discount brokerages and online trading firms accept a fixed fee from market makers in exchange for the right to execute trades on their behalf, has “inherent conflicts” on Wall Street.

“I asked staff to take a holistic, cross-market view of how we could update our rules and drive greater efficiencies in our equity markets, particularly for retail investors,” Gensler told an industry conference late Wednesday.

Under the SEC’s proposed overhaul, which will go to public comment in the fall, market-makers and brokers would need to disclose more detail on price movements and order matching, with the aim of creating “open and transparent” auctions for retail traders.

5. — Gas Prices Nearing $5 A Gallon As Crude Markets Roar

U.S. gas prices neared a record-high national average of nearly $5 a gallon Thursday as oil prices held nearly multi-week highs and the nation’s emergency crude stockpile fell to its lowest levels in more than three decades.

U.S. gasoline prices reached an all-time high of $4.970 per gallon yesterday, according to data from the AAA, 1.5 cents higher than Tuesday’s previous record and an eye-watering 62% higher than last year’s May average of $3.067 per gallon.

In Britain, where gasoline is taxed at a far higher rate, the cost of filling a typical family car topped the £100 ($125.22) for the first time on record, according to the driving advocacy group RAC. That roughly equates to a price of around $8.64 for a U.S. gallon.

In global crude markets, WTI futures contracts for July delivery, which are closely linked to U.S. gas prices, were last seen 19 cents lower on the session at $121.91 per barrel, following the Energy Department data yesterday that showed stockpiles at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve now sit at the lowest levels since March of 1987.