December 13, 2018

News to know before the Opening Bell

1. Apple goes big in Austin: Apple (APPL) said Thursday that it will invest $1 billion to build a new campus in Austin, Texas.

The tech firm also said it would establish new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City. It will expand operations in Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder.

The expansion plans were accompanied by a commitment to invest $10 billion in US data centers over the next five years.

Apple has been criticized by President Donald Trump for manufacturing most of its products abroad. Apple said Thursday that it added 6,000 jobs to its American workforce in 2018.

2. Europe puts its bazooka away: The European Central Bank is expected to formally announce the end of its huge money printing program on Thursday.

The bank launched its stimulus program in March 2015 to support a fragile economy that was still recovering from the financial crisis. In total, the central bank has spent around €2.6 trillion ($3 trillion) on the program.

The end of the program is all but certain. But there are growing concerns about weak economic data in Europe and a potential slowdown in growth.

That means investors will be watching ECB President Mario Draghi closely for any clues on the timing of potential interest rates hikes.

3. Brexit confusion: British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a leadership challenge on Wednesday. But the future of her Brexit divorce deal is far from certain.

May is back in Brussels on Thursday in an attempt to win concessions from the European Union. But she's unlikely to come back with anything that convinces a significant number of UK lawmakers to back her plan.

With no clear path forward for the prime minister, uncertainty is likely to continue for weeks. The pound rebounded from a 20-month low to trade at $1.26 on Thursday.

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were pointing higher. European markets opened mixed, while stocks in Asia gained.

The Dow closed 0.6% higher on Wednesday. The S&P 500 added 0.5% and the Nasdaq gained 1%.

5. Earnings and economics: Adobe Systems (ADBE) and Costco (COST) will release earnings after the close.

6. Coming this week: Thursday --- Adobe (ADBE) and Costco (COST) earnings Friday --- US retail sales for November

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