Stock Market Futures Moving Sideways Ahead Of The Fed’s Meeting Conclusion Today

Stock market futures are mostly flat in early morning trading on Wednesday. For the most part, the Federal Reserve remains a core theme of interest in the stock market today as well. This would be due to the Fed’s two-day policy meeting coming to a close later today. With this comes the last policy decision of 2021, which many suspect will see an acceleration in the Fed’s tapering plans. For investors navigating the stock market now, the main question now is what to expect.

Providing some perspective on all of this is Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) Investment Institute head of global asset allocation strategy, Tracie McMillion. Yesterday, she said, “We don’t think that the Fed is really going to have any surprises for the markets tomorrow. They’re probably going to announce that they’re going to … accelerate tapering, and that they’ll probably finish that by March. But we think that they’re going to leave themselves lots of flexibility around raising interest rates.” Nevertheless, there is plenty of stock market news to go around as well. As of 6:39 a.m. ET, the Dow futures are rising by 0.03%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures are trading lower by 0.09% and 0.33% respectively.

Alibaba Making Push Towards Metaverse Gaming

Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) is in focus in the stock market today thanks to news of its latest move. Namely, according to a report by the South China Morning Post, the company is venturing into gaming. Specifically, metaverse gaming. In detail, Alibaba reportedly registered a new company in Beijing called Yuanjing Shengsheng. The new unit is wholly owned by Alibaba’s investment arm and is listed as a developer of software and related services. 

Notably, Chenyu Cui, a senior games research analyst at London-based consultancy firm Omdia commented on this. Cui says, “This move reflects Alibaba’s strategy for the metaverse.” She then adds that it is “an effort to leverage its edge and cloud computing technology to establish the essential infrastructure for the metaverse.” Now, the addition of Yuanjing Shengsheng to its portfolio would complement Alibaba’s cloud gaming business launched back in October. By and large, this move would mirror that of many of the biggest names in tech now. From the likes of Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: FB) rebranding to fellow Chinese tech peers such as Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) expanding its metaverse offerings, this is apparent.

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United Airlines Eyes Cleaner Air Travel With Plans To Buy Hydrogen-Electric Engines

In other news, United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL) is looking towards cleaner and more sustainable means of powering its planes. As of yesterday, the global airline operator now holds a stake in ZeroAvia. In essence, ZeroAvia is a company that specializes in powering electric motors using hydrogen fuel cells. Additionally, United is also looking to purchase up to 100 of ZeroAvia’s aircraft engines that are powered by the same technology. According to the company, the ZA2000-RJ engines are 100% hydrogen-electric and zero-emission.

All in all, United is pursuing a conditional purchase agreement, starting with 50 engines. Subsequently, there will be an option for 50 more should the company decide to stick with ZeroAvia’s offerings. By United’s estimates, the tech could, in theory, be retrofitted to its aircraft from 2028. This move would be in line with what United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement earlier this week. In it, Kirby notes that hydrogen-electric engines are “one of the most promising paths to zero-emission air travel for smaller aircraft”. Given all of this, it seems like United is keen on shifting its practices with the times. With the recent dip in airline stocks, investors may be considering UAL stock as a long-term buy now.

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Bumble CEO Notes Business Mostly Unaffected By Omicron Concerns

Meanwhile, Bumble (NASDAQ: BMBL) CEO Whitney Herd says that things are alive and well in the online dating scene. On Tuesday, Herd spoke with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on how Bumble’s business is “largely unaffected” amidst shifting market conditions. She said, “This is not a stay-at-home stock or a reopening stock only,”. Because of this, Herd argues, demand for Bumble’s services do not change along with pandemic conditions in general. For investors looking to diversify their portfolios between reopening stocks and stay-at-home stocks, BMBL stock could be worth noting.

Not to mention, the way Bumble continues to adapt to the current pandemic is notable as well. Through its app, users in areas with tighter pandemic restrictions can rely on Bumble’s “Night In” trivia game. By providing this alongside numerous other means of interacting virtually like video calls, Bumble offers an alternative to bored homebodies. At the same time, the alternative for users in places with less strict restrictions can still connect via the app for in-person meet-ups. Regardless, Herd paints a rather optimistic picture about the dating services’ current prospects. Should this be the case, I could see investors eyeing BMBL stock.

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Lyft Dives Into Food Delivery Market Through Partnership With Olo

Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) is another name making waves in the stock market today. Accordingly, this would be thanks to its latest partnership with Olo. In brief, Olo is a software firm that develops digital ordering and delivery programs for restaurants.  The two giants joining forces could be a game changer for the consumer space. This would be an expected play given the rise in consumer dependence on delivery services throughout the pandemic. Lyft’s strategy will be to facilitate last-mile deliveries for merchants who are tired of paying high commissions and losing control of consumer data by using other delivery service providers.  As a result, I could see LYFT stock turning some heads at today’s opening bell.

For one thing, Lyft seems confident about the potential behind this deal already. Evidently, Justin Paris, head of Lyft Delivery sees the partnership with Olo bringing an opportunity size of “several hundred thousand orders per week.” To put things into perspective, Olo currently works with about 500 restaurant brands with a collective 76,000 locations nationwide. In the larger scheme of things, Lyft is taking its own approach to the food delivery business. With the company pushing for a more cost efficient delivery solution, I could see LYFT stock gaining traction.

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