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What to Watch Today: Nasdaq Futures Slump as Control of Senate Hangs in the Balance

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BY THE NUMBERS

Dow futures rose but Nasdaq futures fell Wednesday, with control of the Senate looking like it's down to one of Tuesday's two runoff elections in Georgia. Democrats were projected to win one of the races. The other one was too close to call. Democrats need to win both to take the Senate majority away from Republicans. (CNBC)

Investors are also watching the latest ADP report on jobs trends at U.S. companies, which showed a decrease of 123,000 positions in December. Estimates had called for a gain of 60,000. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq recovered some of the sharp losses from a day earlier. (CNBC)

* Mortgage demand from homebuyers pulled back sharply, even as rates ended 2020 near record low (CNBC)

For the first time since the Covid-triggered market rout in March, the yield on the 10-year Treasury topped 1% on Wednesday. Bond yields move inversely to bond prices. Bitcoin prices rallied above $35,000 early Wednesday, according to data from Coin Metrics. The largest cryptocurrency's latest all-time high comes after a sharp slump Monday and builds on a more than 300% surge in 2020. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Democrat Raphael Warnock won one of Tuesday's Senate runoff races in Georgia, according to NBC News projections, beating Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler to become the state's first Black senator. In Georgia's other runoff election, with nearly all the votes counted, Democrat Jon Ossoff was leading Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term expired Sunday. (CNBC)

The final step in confirming Joe Biden as the next president is set for Wednesday afternoon as Congress convenes to certify that he defeated President Donald Trump in the Electoral College vote. With Biden's 306 electoral votes, 36 more than needed, the process would normally be a formality, but Republicans loyal to Trump plan objections. (CNBC)

* Conservative Koch network encourages Congress to certify election for Biden (CNBC)

The outgoing president, who refuses to concede and falsely claims he won the election, is set to address a pro-Trump protest outside the White House on Wednesday morning. Thousands of Trump supporters are expected to attend. At demonstrations Tuesday evening in Washington, police in D.C. said they made six arrests. (NBC News)

A new strain of the coronavirus that emerged in South Africa, like the one discovered recently in the U.K., is proving to be far more transmissible. While able to spread more easily, scientists do not believe either variant is deadlier. But being more transmissible means more people can get infected, which could mean more serious infections and more fatalities. (CNBC)

* CVS says it expects to finish first round of Covid vaccines in nursing homes by Jan. 25 (CNBC)
* European regulator approves Moderna Covid vaccine for use in the EU (CNBC)

Some taxpayers who use tax preparation services said their second Covid relief payments were sent to the incorrect bank accounts, forcing them to wait longer for their money. The payment is $600 for each eligible adult and each dependent earning up to $75,000 or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. Those earning more than that, up to $87,000 for individuals or $174,000 for married couples, are eligible for a reduced payment. (AP)

* Goldman sees a $600 billion stimulus package coming if Democrats win the Senate majority (CNBC Pro)

Hong Kong police arrested about 50 pro-democracy figures in raids on Wednesday for allegedly violating the new national security law by participating in an unofficial primary election last year that was held to increase their chances of controlling the legislature, according to political parties and local media. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

UnitedHealth (UNH) is buying health-care technology company Change Healthcare (CHNG) for $25.75 per share in cash, compared to Change's Tuesday close of $18.24, or $7.84 billion. UnitedHealth will combine Change Healthcare with its Optum health IT unit.

Walgreens (WBA): Walgreens is selling its Alliance Healthcare businesses to pharmaceutical distributor AmerisourceBergen (ABC) for $6.5 billion in cash and stock. Alliance is a pharmaceutical wholesaler based in Europe.

Tesla (TSLA): Morgan Stanley raised its price target for Tesla to a Street-high $810 per share, following better-than-expected fourth-quarter deliveries. Morgan Stanley maintains an "overweight" rating on the stock. The shares rose 3% in premarket trading as of 7:47 a.m. ET.

Bank of America (BAC): Deutsche Bank named Bank of America a "top pick," based on a positive outlook for bank stocks in general and the idea that BofA has strong cost controls, solid capital returns, and other positive factors. The shares gained 3% in premarket trading as of 7:47 a.m. ET.

SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG), SunRun (RUN), First Solar (FSLR), SunPower (SPWR): Solar stocks are rising as Democrats come closer to controlling the Senate and possibly implementing more alternative energy-friendly policies. First Solar jumped 6% in premarket trading as of 7:47 a.m. ET.

Alibaba (BABA): Alibaba is planning to raise at least $5 billion through a dollar-denominated bond offering this month, according to people with knowledge of the matter who spoke to Reuters. One of the people said the offering could potentially raise as much as $8 billion for the Chinese e-commerce giant.

Wells Fargo (WFC): Wells Fargo said it was notified by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that a 2015 consent order related to anti-money laundering compliance had been terminated, after the bank took steps to remedy related issues.

PPG Industries (PPG): PPG said Finland-based paint maker Tikkurila agreed to a sweetened takeover offer worth $1.52 billion. PPG increased its initial offer by 11% after Tikkurila received a competing offer.

Apple (AAPL): Apple paid out 179% of its targeted bonuses for 2020, after remote work boosted its profits. CEO Tim Cook's cash bonus for the year rose 40% to $10.7 million, in contrast to the 36% drop in his 2019 bonus.

CoStar Group (CSGP): CoStar is suing rival real estate data provider RentPath, accusing it of sabotaging a deal to buy RentPath for $587.5 million. The lawsuit said RentPath employees sent emails to customers warning that prices would increase if the deal was allowed to go through.

Wyndham Destinations (WYND): Wyndham Destinations is buying Travel + Leisure from publisher Meredith Corp. (MDP) for $100 million. The timeshare resort operator will change its name to Travel + Leisure and also change its ticker symbol to TNL in mid-February.

Hologic (HOLX): Hologic is buying privately held cancer test maker Biotheranostics for $230 million. The medical technology company expects the deal for Biotheranostics to close next month.

Cal-Maine Foods (CALM): Cal-Maine reported quarterly earnings of 25 cents per share, compared to consensus forecasts of an 8 cents per share loss. The nation's largest egg producer also reported better-than-expected sales, as elevated stay-at-home meal preparation continues amid the pandemic.

Myriad Genetics (MYGN): Myriad plans to explore strategic alternatives for its autoimmune business, and the genetic testing company also plans to restructure its international operations.

WATERCOOLER

Neil Young sold 50% of his song catalog, in a reported $150 million deal, to the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a U.K. investment vehicle founded by music industry veteran Merck Mercuriadis. Hipgnosis gets the rights to worldwide copyright and income interests from 1,180 songs composed by the legendary folk rocker. (CNBC)

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