June 20, 2018

GE booted from the Dow and other news to know before the Opening Bell

1. GE booted from the Dow: General Electric is losing its spot in the elite Dow Jones Industrial Average.

GE was an original member of the Dow in 1896 and has been in the club continuously since November 7, 1907. It's being replaced in the 30-stock index by Walgreens Boots.

The light bulbs and jet engines maker has been deep in trouble recently. It has slashed thousands of jobs and cut its coveted stock dividend in half.

GE was the worst-performing stock in the Dow last year, losing almost half of its value. It's down by another 25% in 2018.

2. China-US investment: Chinese investment in the United States dropped 92% in the first five months of 2018 compared to the same period last year. That is the lowest level in seven years, according to a report released Wednesday by Rhodium Group.

The world's two biggest economies have been locked in a growing trade spat in recent months.

The White House on Monday started the process of imposing tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, on top of $50 billion already announced. Additionally, President Donald Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods if Beijing continues to retaliate.

3. Car giants team up: Ford and Volkswagen said they are "exploring a strategic alliance" to work on potential projects together including the development of a range of commercial vehicles.

The two companies will not take any stake in each other as part of the alliance, they said.

4. Oil in focus: Energy ministers from OPEC nations and other major oil producers are gathering in Vienna ahead of a crucial meeting that starts Friday.

On the group's agenda is whether to ease production cuts they agreed to impose in 2017 to support prices and eliminate a global crude glut.

"Saudi Arabia would like to see OPEC act as a unified body and continue its partnership with Russia in managing the oil market," said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president at Wood Mackenzie.

Saudi is said to favor supply increases, but other key members of the cartel are opposed. Supply disruptions caused by US sanctions on Iran and political instability in Venezuela are a major factor in the group's calculus.

US crude futures climbed 0.7% to $65.50 per barrel.

5. Cryptocurrency theft: One of the world's biggest exchanges announced that more than $30 million worth of digital currencies have been stolen from it.

Bithumb, an exchange based in South Korea, said in a notice on its website that all customer deposits and withdrawals have been suspended while it reviews the situation.

This is a second large scale cryptocurrency theft in recent days. Just last week, another cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, Coinrail, said hackers stole about 30% of its virtual currencies.

News of the theft at the exchange hit the prices of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin fell around 2%.

6. Global market overview: US stock futures were pointing higher after two rough trading sessions.

European markets opened higher, following a positive trading session in Asia.

The Dow closed 1.2% lower on Tuesday as investors reacted to new trade threats from the Trump administration. The S&P 500 dropped 0.4% and the Nasdaq shed 0.3%.

7. Earnings and economics: American Outdoor Brands and Barnes & Noble Education will release earnings after the close.

The US existing home sales report for May will be published Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. ET.

In Britain, investors will be watching a key parliamentary vote on whether lawmakers should have a "meaningful vote" over the outcome of Brexit.

New Zealand GDP data will be published at 6:45 pm ET.

8. Coming this week: Wednesday — American Outdoor Brands earnings; US Senate Finance Committee tariff hearing Thursday — Darden, Kroger earnings; bank stress test results Friday — OPEC meeting

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