Stock Market Futures Slip On Omicron Variant Uncertainties

Stock market futures are on a steady decline in early morning trading on Tuesday this week. With the Omicron Covid variant reportedly having more mutations than other variants, this reaction is not unwarranted. In fact, even vaccine firm Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) CEO Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times that its vaccine could be less effective against the new variant of the virus. Despite global consumer markets showing continued strength, the previous momentum in stocks appears to have hit a snag. Nevertheless, the question on investors’ minds now could be “Are we looking at another March 2020?

While that remains to be seen, Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) chief cross-assets strategist Andrew Sheets recently weighed in on this. He said, “To take a step back, I think you had a global economy that in the fourth quarter [of 2020] through last week was looking incredibly strong … and then a new variant comes along,” Sheets continued by saying, “That would seem to work against a lot of the trades that work in that high-growth environment, and also seemed to disrupt this ‘do central banks need to act more aggressively’ narrative, because if there’s a new variant, then maybe we should be more cautious.” As of 7:13 a.m. ET, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq futures are trading lower by 1.02%, 0.88%, and 0.52% respectively.

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Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal Takes The Reins As CEO Jack Dorsey Steps Down

Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) is turning heads in the stock market this week. For the most part, this is thanks to news of CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly stepping down from the helm, effective immediately. Taking his place is Twitter CTO, Parag Agrawal. Now, according to the company, Dorsey will remain a member of the board until his term expires in 2022. Dorsey said in a statement, “I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders.” Overall, as the CEO of Square (NYSE: SQ) as well, Dorsey could be looking to focus on building his booming digital payments firm moving forward.

More importantly, for investors eyeing TWTR stock now, Agrawal is no newcomer to the business. In detail, he has been working for Twitter for over a decade, holding the CTO position since 2017. Among his notable work in the company would be strategies involving artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. All of which serve to further optimize Twitter users’ timelines with more relevant content. Notably, Agrawal’s expertise in improving overall user experiences could serve to help in achieving the company’s aggressive growth goals. Namely, Twitter aims to facilitate 315 million monetizable daily active users and double its annual revenue by 2023.

Shopify Surging Past 2020 Cyber Monday Sales Volumes

Over the holiday shopping weekend, Shopify (NYSE: SHOP) appears to be going from strength to strength. After all, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are among, if not two of the largest sales days in the year. Even after posting record sales figures throughout Black Friday, the company’s merchants are seeing immense sales this Cyber Monday. As of 4:00 p.m. ET on Monday this week, Shopify had already surpassed 2020’s sales of $5.1 billion globally. According to Shopify President Harley Finkelstein, the platform’s peak sales saw a high of “$1.5 million a minute or 13,000 orders a minute”.

By and large, Finkelstein’s updates seem to be painting a clearer picture of consumer shopping trends this year. For some context, the company’s Black Friday sales this year are up by more than double that of 2019’s sales. Now, as pandemic concerns continue to rise on news of the emerging Omicron variant of Covid, some would argue that these trends could persist. Should this be the case, merchants could become increasingly reliant on Shopify’s digital storefront services. For one thing, the company has and continues to build its partnership network with numerous tech giants. This includes Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) subsidiary Google, Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: FB)’s Facebook, and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) among others. Regardless, it would not surprise me to see SHOP stock gaining traction in the stock market this holiday season.

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Lithium Americas Leading The Charge In Lithium Stocks

Elsewhere, lithium battery stocks are getting supercharged as more automakers turn to the tech for electric vehicle (EV) batteries. As of yesterday, global automaker Stellantis (NYSE: STLA) is now working with Vulcan Energy, an Australian lithium developer. Through this partnership, Vulcan will be supplying Stellantis with lithium hydroxide for an initial five-year period. All in all, this would line up with Stellantis’ plans to invest over $33 billion through 2025 to electrify its portfolio.

In theory, this would be the case as the demand for EVs continues to rise. From the ongoing climate crisis and subsequent government incentives to a growing selection of EVs, consumers have plenty to consider. For investors looking to invest in EV pick-and-shovel plays in the stock market today, this is where lithium stocks such as Lithium America (NYSE: LAC) come into play. Year-to-date LAC stock is currently holding on to gains of over 200%. This is, in part, thanks to gains of over 14% on yesterday’s Stellantis news. Even so, the company remains hard at work on the operational front.

Just last week, Lithium America increased its overall stake in Arena Minerals (OTCMKTS: AMRZF), a pioneer in the lithium brine industry, by $10 million. The move serves to boost its holdings to about 18% of the company. Additionally, Lithium America also gains future optionality into Arena’s lithium mining projects. If that wasn’t enough, the company also acquired Millennial Lithium a week before that. As such, auto investors could be considering LAC stock among other lithium battery stocks now.

Earnings On Tap In The Stock Market Today

Amidst all the exciting stock market news today, there are also plenty of earnings to consider. In the pre-market, we have JinkoSolar (NYSE: JKS), Scotiabank (NYSE: BNS), CitiTrends (NASDAQ: CTRN), and RedHill Biopharma (NASDAQ: RDHL).

Aside from that mixed bag, there is a notable focus on tech earnings after today’s closing bell. This is evident as Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), Zscaler (NASDAQ: ZS), Ambarella (NASDAQ: AMBA), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE), and GlobalFoundries (NASDAQ: GFS) are reporting their earnings during after-market hours. Even with markets considering the possible impact of the Omicron variant, there is a lot of news keeping investors on their toes now.

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