Stocks were higher at the open with the Dow adding 133 points, or 0.4%. The S&P 500 rose 0.8%, while the Nasdaq jumped 1.6%.
Walmart is coming for Wall Street. The big box retailer poached a pair of senior Goldman Sachs bankers to help lead its new fintech startup as it ventures into the banking business. Goldman’s consumer banking chief Omer Ismail, and one of his top lieutenants, David Stark, will join the venture, depriving the firm of talent just after it launched its own foray into online banking with its Marcus service. “These are substantive hires that should serve as an unambiguous signal of Walmart’s seriousness regarding its fintech foray,” said Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading. “The regulatory moat that has shielded traditional commercial banks is steadily evaporating and the competitive risks are profound.”
Senate Democrats have abandoned plans use the tax code to penalize corporations that don’t raise minimum wages for their lowest wage workers in an effort to help speed through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal. Some lawmakers floated the possibility last week after the Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of the pandemic relief legislation failed to qualify under fast-track budget rules that Democrats are using to pass the latest round of stimulus without Republican support. The stimulus plan passed the House early Saturday and now rests with the Senate, which will consider the bill this week and will likely remove raising the federal minimum wage from the bill to consider as part of future legislation.
Bitcoin is up more than 13% this morning after Citigroup said the world’s largest cryptocurrency is at a “tipping point” and could one day “become the currency of choice for international trade.” “There are a host of risks and obstacles that stand in the way of bitcoin progress,” Citi’s global perspectives and solutions team said in a note out this morning. “But weighing these potential hurdles against the opportunities leads to the conclusion that bitcoin is at a tipping point ad we could be at the start of massive transformation of cryptocurrency into the mainstream.”
Boeing shares are up 6% today after new broke that United Airlines is buying 25 additional 737 Max planes and taking delivery of other orders earlier than previously planned in a vote of confidence in the scandal-plagued planes. “As we plan for the future and the return of demand, we’ve been looking at ways to best position our fleet for the recovery and be in a position to best take advantage of people’s desire to travel,” said Andrew Nocella, United’s chief commercial officer said in a note to staff. “And as the end of the pandemic nears and vaccines continue to roll out, today’s fleet announcement helps position us to meet the demand we expect to see in 2022 and 2023 and puts us on a path toward more opportunities for our employees in the future.”
And Rocket Lab is going public through a SPAC merger, valuing the company that builds small rockets to launch satellites at more than $4 billion. Rocket Lab is combining with Vector Acquisition and will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker RKLB when the deal closes, likely in the second quarter. “This milestone accelerates Rocket Lab’s ability to unlock the full potential of space through our launch and spacecraft platforms and catalyzes our ambition to create a new multi-billion-dollar business vertical in space applications,” said Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck in a press release. “Space has defined some of humanity’s greatest achievements, and it continues to shape our future. The satellites we build and launch are keeping countries connected and borders protected, monitoring weather and managing waste, providing insights on climate change, and helping us manage resources for future generations.”
Stocks We’re Watching
Aerie Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AERI): Aerie Pharmaceutical shares are up nearly 25% since last Thursday following the ophthalmic pharmaceutical company announcing its fiscal fourth quarter results. “Our fourth quarter 2020 net revenues of $24.7 million exceeded third quarter by nearly 23 percent, reflecting strong sequential volume growth in our glaucoma franchise and increased net revenue per bottle. We believe our glaucoma franchise is increasingly benefiting from broader physician awareness of the two product profiles and expanded formulary access,” Vicente Anido, Jr., Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of Aerie said in a statement. “We ended 2020 well-funded with cash and investments of over $240 million reflecting stronger revenues, well-controlled operating expenses and the Santen upfront payment. While we are not currently providing full year 2021 financial guidance due to continuing uncertainties surrounding the impact of the ongoing pandemic on ophthalmic practices, based on our volume and net revenue per bottle trajectory, we are comfortable with current consensus analyst estimates.”