Stocks poised to start week on a muted note ahead inflation data and start of Q4 earnings season

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Wall Street awaits earnings season

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a muted open on Monday as traders await the release of a key inflation report and a kick-off to fourth-quarter earnings season later this week.

As of 5:50 a.m. ET, Dow futures were up 22 points, or 0.06% to 36,129. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures gave away 30.5 points, or 0.2% to 15,550.5 while S&P 500 futures were unchanged.

The U.S. consumer price index for December is slated to be announced at 8:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Economists expect CPI inflation to have risen 7.1% on an annual basis in December and 0.5% against the previous month, according to data compiled by FactSet.

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and Ford (NYSE: F) are scheduled to kick off the third-quarter earnings season Thursday with reports before the bell.

Other major companies reporting quarterly financial results later this week include Blackrock (NYSE: BLK), Citigroup (NYSE: C), First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC).

Apria soars 24% after agreeing to be acquired by Owens & Minor

Shares of Apria (NASDAQ: APR) were rallying before the opening bell Monday after the company agreed to be acquired by healthcare technology company Owens & Minor (NYSE: OMI) in a deal with an equity value of approximately $1.45 billion.

The companies said in a press release that Apria shareholders will receive $37.50 cash for each share held, representing a 26% premium over the closing price of the stock on Friday, Jan. 7, and 24% over its 30-day volume-weighted average price.

Owens & Minor hopes the acquisition of Apria will bolster its presence in the fast-growing home healthcare services market. The companies expect to close the deal during the first half of 2022.

As of writing, Apria stock was marked $7.28, or 24.50% to $37 a share in the premarket trading session. Owens & Minor shares lost $4.07, or 9.03% to $41.01 apiece.

Lululemon Athletica sinks on weak guidance

Lululemon Athletica shares (NASDAQ: LULU) were under pressure early Monday after the company disclosed that it expects its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue to come in at the low end of its guidance range because of staffing shortages and shortened store hours amid spiking Covid-19 infections in the U.S. due to the omicron variant.

The yoga-wear maker said it now expects Q4 net revenue to be toward the low end of its previous outlook of $2.13 billion to $2.17 billion.

It also projects adjusted earnings per share to be toward the low end of its previous forecast of $3.25 to $3.32.

Lululemon stock shed $23.21, or 6.53% to $332 to a share in pre-market trading hours.

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