Stock Market Futures Gain Ahead Of Federal Reserve’s Latest Policy Call Of 2021

Stock market futures are on the rise as we enter another week of trading. In the week ahead, investors’ focus will likely be on the Federal Reserve. Accordingly, this would be because the Fed is due to provide its final monetary policy decision of the year. The likes of which will likely be focused around the red-hot economy that is currently recovering amidst fast-growing inflation. The upcoming two-day meeting commences on Tuesday. With that said, what should investors be looking out for?

To help answer this question is Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) economist Matthew Luzzeti. He notes, “We expect the Fed to announce a doubling in the pace of tapering at the December FOMC meeting, bringing the monthly drawdown to $20 billion and $10 billion per month for Treasuries and MBS, respectively. This would conclude the tapering process in March and open up greater optionality for an earlier liftoff.” On the flip side, the likes of BlackRock’s (NYSE: BLK) chief investment officer of global fixed income Rick Rieder said, “The Fed will also have to balance these factors alongside potential Omicron risks, its supply and demand influences, potentially moderately slowing demand for goods and services and the possibility of rising geopolitical risks.

Regardless of which side you are leaning toward, one thing is certain. The stock market today continues to push forward even with inflationary pressures persisting. Not to mention, there is certainly no shortage of exciting stock market news to know about today. As of 6:46 a.m. ET, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq futures are gaining by 0.22%, 0.31%, and 0.44% respectively.

Ford Revving Up Its Manufacturing Operations Across The Board

Ford (NYSE: F) could be turning heads in the stock market now thanks to the revelation of its latest plans. Namely, the automotive giant is making massive plays across its production operations. For starters, Ford is planning to triple the annual production output of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV by 2023. Should this be the case, the manufacturing capacity for this electric vehicle (EV) would be at 200,000 units across its North America and Europe plants. This insight into Ford’s production goals comes directly from CEO Jim Farley via a social media post. Additionally, Farley also says, “It’s hard to produce Mustang Mach-Es fast enough to meet the incredible demand, but we are sure going to try.

If that wasn’t enough, the company is also expanding its capabilities overseas as well. Ford is looking to invest $900 million towards upgrading its factories in Thailand, its largest investment in the country yet. This would provide support for plants that produce its industry-leading Ranger pickups and Everest SUVs. In detail, Ford will be doubling the robots and allocating about $400 million towards improving its supply chain network locally. In the larger scheme of things, this would serve to further bolster the company’s capability to deliver on orders. Given all of this, F stock could be in focus in the stock market today.

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General Motors Taps MP Materials In New EV Motor Deal

In other EV-related news, General Motors (NYSE: GM) is digging deep to find new ways of improving its EV tech. Simply put, the company is working with MP Materials (NYSE: MP) to source rare earth metals for its EV motors in North America. Through the long-term supply agreement, MP will be providing “U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloys, and finished magnets”. Subsequently, General Motors aims to incorporate all of this into its upcoming EV lineup. Among the notable names receiving the upgrade are its GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, and Chevrolet Silverado EV. At the same time, over a dozen models using its Ultium Platform will also be included.

By General Motors’ estimates, the company should begin an initial production ramp on this front in 2023. Notably, some would argue that the current deal is a solid win for General Motors. After all, rare earth material-based magnets are a crucial component in EV motors. They are essentially what facilitates the transformation of electricity into motion, according to General Motors. With Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) motors in mind, it is looking to “accelerate the U.S. rare earth supply chain at commercial scale”. Given the booming demand across domestic and international markets for EVs, GM stock could be worth watching this week. 

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Apple Homing In On $3 Trillion Market Cap

Meanwhile, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is inching closer towards a $3 trillion market capitalization going into this trading week. Should the company accomplish this feat, it would be as big as the world’s fifth-largest economy. Furthermore, Apple’s current pace of growth is, safe to say, admirable seeing as it hit the $2 trillion mark just over a year ago. Year-to-date the company’s shares are currently holding on to gains of over 35%. As it stands, AAPL stock is already trading at record levels. Yet, analysts seem to see it having more room to run.

Just last week, Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) Katy Huberty provided a positive update on the stock. In essence, Huberty reiterated a Buy rating on AAPL stock and raised her price target from $164 to $200. She cites Apple’s potential push towards the augmented reality and self-driving car industries are yet to be factored into its current stock price. Moreover, the analyst is also raising her iPhone shipment estimates by 3 million units to 83 million units. Regardless, with continued demand from consumers driving sales, AAPL stock could be looking at exciting times ahead in the stock market.

Confluent Inks Cloud Data Infrastructure Deal With Alibaba Cloud

Confluent (NASDAQ: CLFT), a software firm that offers data streaming services appears to be making waves in the tech world today. For the most part, this would be thanks to its latest partnership with Alibaba (NYSE: BABA). As of today, Confluent is working with Alibaba Cloud. The duo are bringing the Confluent Data Streaming Service to Alibaba Cloud’s platform. As a result, clients in mainland China now have access to Confluence’s modern data streaming platform. The likes of which will allow them to “harness the flow of real-time data across entire organizations” according to Confluent.

Overall, Lancelot Guo, President of Ecosystem and Sales Operations at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence also weighed in on this deal. Guo said, “Confluent has pioneered a new category of data infrastructure for data in motion, with open-source technology Apache Kafka® at the heart of it. We are very pleased to integrate Confluent’s leading solutions onto Alibaba Cloud platform and now bring this technology to our customers in China.” Given the extensive clientele Alibaba works with in China, this seems to be a solid play by Confluence. As such, both CFLT stock and BABA stock could be gaining attention today.

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