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Futures mostly higher, Tesla pledges "more affordable" EVs - what's moving markets

Published 24/04/2024, 08:36
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Investing.com -- U.S. stock futures tick broadly higher ahead of a fresh batch of crucial earnings from some of the world's largest technology firms. Shares in Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) spike premarket as the electric-vehicle behemoth says it will accelerate the launch of low-cost models that investors hope could reignite waning consumer demand. The U.S. Senate votes in favor of a bill that will ban TikTok in the United States if the social media app's Chinese parent does not divest the app in the next nine months to a year.

1. Futures higher

U.S. stock futures ticked mostly into the green on Wednesday, as investors awaited a bevy of key earnings from major technology companies and sifted through other key corporate results.

By 03:17 ET (07:17 GMT), the Dow futures contract had risen by 19 points or 0.1%, S&P 500 futures had gained 14 points or 0.3%, and Nasdaq 100 futures had increased by 125 points or 0.7%.

The averages all moved higher in the prior session, buoyed by strength in chipmaking stocks like Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) as well as a surge in shares in streaming giant Spotify (NYSE:SPOT), which posted its first-ever quarterly profit of more than one billion dollars. Meanwhile, aerospace group GE Aerospace lifted its full-year earnings projections and life sciences firm Danaher (NYSE:DHR)'s latest three-month income beat Wall Street estimates, pushing up shares in both companies.

However, budget carrier JetBlue tumbled more than 18% after it trimmed its annual revenue forecast.

More broadly, equities in New York were given support by tepid U.S. business activity data in April, which bolstered hopes that the American economy may be slowing to a point that will relieve some upward pressure on inflation.

2. Tesla shares spike on accelerated timeline for "more affordable" models

Tesla has said that it will move forward the timeline for the release of "more affordable" versions of its cars, sending shares in the electric vehicle giant higher in premarket trading despite first-quarter results that were below Wall Street estimates.

The company, which like other EV players has been struggling to revive flagging consumer demand and combat intensifying competition, said in a filing that it would accelerate the launch of new models ahead of its "previously communicated start of production in the second half of 2025." Tesla said a cheaper model would be included in these cars.

Shares in Tesla had slipped earlier this month after Reuters reported that the firm had ditched plans for a low-cost vehicle called the Model 2. Chief Executive Elon Musk has denied the story.

Elsewhere, more mega-cap companies are due to report their latest quarterly returns this week, including Facebook-owner Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) after the closing bell on Wednesday. Software titan Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) are also slated to unveil results on Thursday.

3. U.S. Senate approves TikTok divestment-or-ban bill

Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate have voted in favor of a bill that would ban TikTok in the United States if the popular short-video platform's Chinese owner ByteDance does not divest the app in the next nine months to a year.

The legislation, which was already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives over the weekend and folded into a larger measure that included fresh military funding to Ukraine, is now set to go to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law.

With over 170 million users in the U.S., TikTok has become one of the most influential apps in social media. But its Chinese ownership has raised concerns over user data in Washington, ratcheting up already fraught tensions with leaders in Beijing. TikTok has previously said that it has not shared and will not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government.

According to Reuters, TikTok is gearing up to challenge the ban. The American Civil Liberties Union, a New York-based non-profit organization, has also argued that banning TikTok or forcing ByteDance to divest the app would set an "alarming global precedent for excessive government control over social media platforms."

4. SenseTime shares rally

Hong Kong shares of SenseTime (HK:80020) rose sharply on Wednesday after the Chinese unicorn released an updated model of its in-house generative artificial intelligence model.

SenseTime launched the latest version of the model, dubbed SenseNova 5.0, at its Tech Day event in Shanghai. The firm said the offering features better linguistic, creative and reasoning capabilities, along with improved text-to-image generation.

SenseTime also said it was working on text-to-video generation.

5. Oil edges up

Oil prices moved higher in European trade on Wednesday, as traders shifted their focus from easing tensions in the Middle East to more upcoming cues on the U.S. economy and interest rates.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday that U.S. oil inventories saw a draw of 3.2 million barrels in the week to April 19, ducking expectations for a build of 1.8 million barrels. The reading typically heralds a similar trend from official inventory data -- due later on Wednesday -- and indicates some tightening in U.S. markets as the travel-heavy summer season approaches.

Markets are also awaiting first-quarter gross domestic product data from the U.S. on Thursday for more cues on the world’s biggest fuel consumer. The figures are expected to tie into the outlook for U.S. interest rates, given that strength in the economy gives the Federal Reserve more headroom to keep interest rates elevated for longer.

Brent oil futures expiring in June had risen by 0.2% to $88.55 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures had inched up by 0.1% to $83.46 per barrel by 03:17 ET.

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