Stock futures mixed as traders await Biden, Powell speeches

Joe Biden

Futures point to a mixed open

U.S. stock futures traded mixed early Thursday as the market awaited President-elect Joe Biden to unveil his coronavirus stimulus plan later in the day.

As of 5:50 a.m. ET, futures tied to the blue-chip Dow were indicated 90 points, or 0.29% to 31,049. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures 32.37 points, or 0.25% to 12,939.88 while the S&P 500 futures were little changed.

Biden is set to introduce a relief package worth around $2 trillion, a significant increase to the $900 billion package that was approved by lawmaker in December.

The package is widely expected to include $2000 stimulus payouts to Americans, something that was a key Democratic proposal during the Senate runoff elections in Georgia.

However, it’s not clear if Biden wants an additional $1,400 to top up the $600 checks already approved, or a full $,2000.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is also scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Trump impeached for a second time

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has become the first American president in history to be impeached twice after a single article for “incitement of insurrection” passed by a vote of 232-197 in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Ten GOP members joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump for his role in inciting a mob of supporters who attacked the Capitol building last week.

Shortly after the vote passed, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement calling for the trial to be held after the inauguration of Biden on Jan. 20.

Trump also released a video statement after the impeachment saying that “mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for.”

Initial jobless claims report on tap

On the data front, traders are awaiting a report on weekly initial jobless claims from the U.S. Labor Department.

The report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show jobless claims for the week ended Jan. 9 jumped to 789,000 from the 787,000 reported during the prior week.

Economists see continuing claims for week ended Jan 2 coming in at 5 million, down from 5.072 million during the prior week.

Intel CEO ousted weeks activist investor called for sweeping change

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) announced Wednesday that its CEO, Robert Swan, would be stepping down from the company, weeks after activist investor Third Point agitated sweeping change at the chipmaker.

Swan, who joined Intel in 2016 as chief financial officer, will be replaced by VMware (NYSE: VMW) CEO Pat Gelsinger.

Intel said in a press release that Gelsinger is “a highly respected CEO and industry veteran with more than four decades of technology and leadership experience.”

Last month, Third Point wrote a letter to Intel saying the chipmaker has significantly underperformed its rivals in the past five years.

The activist investor urged the company’s board of directors to consider strategic alternatives including a possible move from manufacturing.

As of writing, Intel stock was up 2.19% to $58.20 a share in pre-market trading Thursday.