Stock futures surge as omicron-fueled volatility continues

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Wall Street

Markets poised to open higher

U.S. stock futures were rallying on Thursday morning after the major averages tumbled in the final minutes of trading in the previous session following the CDC’s confirmation of the first U.S. case of the omicron Covid variant, in California.

As of 5:20 a.m. ET, futures tied to the blue-chip Dow Jones advanced 229 points, or 0.67% to 34,231.

S&P 500 futures gained 21.75 points, or 0.48% to 4,530.25 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures added 33.25 points, or 0.21% to 15,903.

The stock market has swung wildly in the past week as it remains unclear what kind of threat the omicron variant may poses to the global economy.

On Wednesday, the CDC and health officials California confirmed the first Covid-19 case linked to the newly discovered variant Omicron in the country, saying a person who had recently traveled from South Africa tested positive for the variant.

Following the news, the Dow plunged 461.68 points, or 1.34% to finish Wednesday’s session at 34,022.04. The S&P 500 shed about 1.2% to close at 4,513.04 while the Nasdaq Composite gave away 1.8% to end at 15,254.05.

Square changes its corporate name to Block

Square (NYSE: SQ), the payments firm led by Jack Dorsey, is changing its name to Block Inc, as it aims to move beyond its payment business and jump into new areas like cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

In a press release on Wednesday, the company said Block will become the name of the “corporate entity,” and Square will continue to be the segment of the company that processes payments for people and businesses.

“The change to Block acknowledges the company’s growth. Since its start in 2009, the company has added Cash App, TIDAL, and TBD54566975 as businesses, and the name change creates room for further growth,” the company said.

The new corporate identity will not result in any organizational changes and the company’s shares will still trade under the “SQ” ticker symbol.

The name change comes just a few days after Dorsey stepped down from his role as Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) chief executive.

Crude jumps ahead of OPEC+ output decision

In energy markets, crude futures were trading in the green territory on Thursday ahead of meeting today, in which the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member allies such as Russia will decide whether to pump more oil into the market or curb supply amid concerns over the omicron variant.

The group, known as OPEC+, has been releasing an additional 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of output to global supply each month since August, as members gradually wind down the record cuts they agreed to in 2020.

According to an internal report seen by Reuters, OPEC+ members see the oil surplus worsening to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, 3.4 million bpd in February, and 3.8 million bpd in March next year.

As of 5:20 a.m. ET, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed $1.35, or 2.06% to $66.92 a barrel. Global Brent crude futures were up $1.35, or 1.96% to $70.22 a barrel.

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