U.S. stocks open higher after a rough Wednesday

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures opened higher Thursday, one day after the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq saw steep declines of more than 2% as concern deepened about heightened speculative trading activity around soaring short-squeezed GameStop (GME). Nasdaq futures had been lower earlier Thursday on weakness in Apple (AAPL) and Tesla (TSLA) after earnings. (CNBC)

* David Tepper says be careful playing this speculative market game (CNBC)
* Mark Cuban says he’s worried about market, ‘hedged the heck’ out portfolio (CNBC)

GameStop shares soared yet again to as high as around $500 in Thursday’s premarket, before going negative like they did overnight. The moves followed a more than 130% rally on Wednesday in heavy volume, pushing its week-to-date gains to 466%. The stock was worth about $40 just a week ago. It was worth around $6 a few months ago. (CNBC)

* Robinhood, Interactive Brokers restrict trading in GameStop stock and options (CNBC)
* Mark Cuban, despite market concerns, sees Reddit crowd as equalizer on Street (CNBC)

The government just released two key economic reports: Gross domestic product and weekly jobless claims. Fourth-quarter GDP advanced 4%, a bit below estimates. Initial jobless claims for the week ending Jan. 23 totaled a still-elevated Covid level of 847,000 but fewer than expected. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Major airlines reported quarterly results before the opening bell, with shares of heavily shorted American soaring about 50% at one stage, before cutting those gains in half. That action came despite the carrier posting a record fourth-quarter loss and facing difficult months ahead as new travel restrictions and a slow rollout of vaccines cloud hopes for a near-term recovery. (CNBC)

Some market pros see the frenzied short squeezes in GameStop and other shorted stocks as signs of a bubble brewing, but the Federal Reserve doesn’t seem to. For that reason, investors expect asset prices could continue to rise. (CNBC)

Dow stock McDonald’s fourth-quarter earnings and revenue fell short of estimates. But the fast-food chain said U.S. same-store sales jumped to 5.5%, crediting marketing investments and promotional activity during the pandemic. Shares were modestly higher. (CNBC)

Shares of Apple, Tesla and Facebook were mixed, the morning after the tech giants reported quarterly results. In the case of Apple, whose stock soared more than 80% in the past 12 month, shares moving lower might be taking a breather despite the company’s most profitable quarter ever. (CNBC)

Facebook beat estimates with quarterly earnings and revenue. The stock turned higher. The company also said Apple’s planned privacy changes may make it more difficult for Facebook to target users with ads. Facebook shares were up 26% in the past year as of Wednesday’s close. (CNBC)

Tesla’s quarterly earnings missed estimates, though revenue exceeded expectations. The high-flying stock, up over 670% in the past 12 months, was under pressure after the company did not provide a clear vehicle delivery target for 2021. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Southwest Airlines (LUV): Southwest lost $1.29 per share for the fourth quarter, smaller than the loss of $1.68 per share anticipated by Wall Street. Revenue came in below estimates. Its 2020 loss of $3.1 billion represented its first annual loss since 1972.

JetBlue (JBLU): JetBlue shares are up 6% in premarket trading, following a smaller-than-expected fourth-quarter loss for the airline. Its loss came in at $1.53 compared to a consensus estimate of a $1.69 per share loss, and revenue was also ahead of estimates.

Comcast (CMCSA): The NBCUniversal and CNBC parent earned 58 cents per share for the fourth quarter, 8 cents above estimates, with revenue also beating analyst forecasts. Results were helped by record broadband and customer additions, and the company also said its Peacock streaming service has now reached 33 million signups in its first 6 months. Comcast also raised its quarterly dividend by 2 cents to 25 cents per share.

Levi Strauss (LEVI): Levi Strauss came in 5 cents a share ahead of consensus, with quarterly earnings of 20 cents per share. The apparel maker’s revenue also topped estimates, though the company issued a cautious current-quarter forecast amid new Covid-related store shutdowns in major markets.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS): Las Vegas Sands lost 37 cents per share for its latest quarter, 5 cents a share more than analysts were anticipating. The casino operator’s revenue also missed estimates. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 67% from a year earlier due to the impact of Covid-19.

Whirlpool (WHR): Whirlpool reported quarterly earnings of $6.67 per share, compared with a consensus estimate of $6.07 a share. The appliance maker’s revenue also came in above Street forecasts, however Whirlpool warned of some product shortages in coming months due to production constraints.

Toyota (TM): Toyota overtook Volkswagen in 2020 to reclaim the No. 1 spot in global car sales for the first time in five years, selling 9.528 million vehicles to Volkswagen’s 9.305 million.

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