U.S. Stock Futures Ticked Higher To Start The Final Trading Week Of 2021

Stock market futures tilted higher on Monday morning as investors return from the holiday-shortened week. With little news driving markets after the Christmas holiday plus the lack of liquidity, the stock market can be more volatile than usual. For this week, we are entering the period known for ushering in the so-called Santa Claus rally. For those uninitiated, it is a term encompassing the final five trading days of the year and first two sessions of the new year. 

Why are these seven days so strong?” wrote Ryan Detrick, LPL Financial chief market strategist, in a note. “Whether optimism over a coming new year, holiday spending, traders on vacation, institutions squaring up their books, or the holiday spirit, the bottom line is that bulls tend to believe in Santa.

But for this year, investors do have additional concerns to mull heading into the new year. With the Omicron variant, potential for tighter monetary policy from the Fed, and the market’s valuation at record highs, there are a lot to consider before making any moves in the stock market today. As of 6:54 a.m. ET, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq futures are trading higher by 0.06%, 0.17%, and 0.24% respectively.

Travel Stocks Under Pressure After Thousands Of Flights Canceled

Despite global efforts underway to bring back some normalcy, market sentiment could be swayed by the increasing infections of the Omicron variant. While the strain has proven to be highly transmissible, studies are suggesting it is less severe in terms of hospitalizations. Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed that now is not the time to get complacent. 

With the Omicron variant, the normally joyous, peaceful time of the year turned to displeasure for many, particularly flyers. Since Christmas Eve, airlines have scrubbed more than 2,800 U.S. flights. This has disrupted travel during the year end holiday weekend. Airlines such as United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL), Delta Air lines (NYSE: DAL), American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) cited the spread of Omicron among crews and staff shortages as the reasons for the cancellation. For these reasons, travel stocks are trading lower in the pre-market trading today.

Like many businesses and organizations, we have seen an increasing number of sick calls from Omicron. Despite our best efforts, we’ve had to cancel a number of flights, and additional flight cancellations and other delays remain a possibility as we see more Omicron community spread.”- a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement, CNBC reported.

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U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Rose 8.5% As Online Shopping Booms

According to a report by Mastercard (NYSE: MA) SpendingPulse, U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 11% in this year’s holiday shopping season. The report by Mastercard also showed an 8.5% increase in retail sales over the holiday season. Online sales made up 20.9% of all retail sales this year as compared to 14.6% in 2019. If anything, this signals how the pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce.

In a statement, Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard, said many consumers got their Christmas shopping done early this year. He said, “Shoppers were eager to secure their gifts ahead of the retail rush, with conversations surrounding supply chain and labor supply issues sending consumers online and to stores in droves.” 

For this holiday season, Black Friday marked the top spending day, and spending for the entire long weekend was up 14.1% from last year. Furthermore. in-store sales also rebounded, increasing 16.5% year-over-year. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales experienced sustained growth, bringing in around 5% gains over the past year. All in all, these are all positive signs for investors looking to put up a list of best retail stocks to buy.

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Could AMC Stock Continue To Shine As Spider-Man Tops $1 Billion At Global Box Office?

While it might not be everything investors wanted from Santa heading into the Christmas holiday, some meme stocks may fare better than the others. Sure, the trading volume for GameStop (NYSE: GME) and a list of meme stocks may have faded. But could the same be said of AMC Entertainment (NYSE: AMC)? Now that ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ has topped $1 billion at the global box office, could it provide a fresh boost to AMC stock?

AMC Stock

Despite the massive success of the Spider-Man debut and potentially upbeat catalysts such as its plans to sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs), AMC is not out of the woods just yet. It is still considerably overvalued given its current performance, whereby revenues are still far from the pre-pandemic levels. And don’t forget, the company is still doing all it can to avoid bankruptcy.

While all these might deter you from buying AMC stock, there’s a bigger factor in play. The optimism and persistence of retail investors continue to have a bullish impact on AMC stock. For this reason, it seems to me that they would use this opportunity to amplify this great piece of news. And that would further push the stock higher. Considering all this, could AMC stock be an excellent short-term investment in the stock market today? 

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Apple Hired Meta AR Communications Chief Ahead Of Headset Launch

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is likely to come out with its first major new product category in seven years. While Apple remains tight-lipped about the product, it’s increasingly apparent that it is an AR and VR headset. Ahead of its powerful headset launch, Apple is starting to get its ducks in a row. The company has reportedly hired Andrea Schubert, Meta Platform’s (NASDAQ: FB) communications and public relations lead for its augmented reality (AR) products.  

best tech stocks (AAPL stock)

Such a hire makes a lot of sense for Apple as the company nears its launch. According to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 was one of the top-selling products on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year.

In addition to that, Meta’s Oculus app topped the App Store in the U.S. on Christmas Day. It also became the number one free app on Google Play Store. This may be an indication that many received the headset as a gift during this holiday season.

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