What to watch today: Dow futures higher as index looks to set another record, ether tops $4,000

U.S. stock futures were mixed of the Monday session, but they are pointing to a record intraday high at the open for the Dow Jones Industrial Average following the 30-stock index's 24th record close of the year Friday. Dow futures implied an opening gain of about 100 points, while S&P 500 futures were flat and Nasdaq futures slightly lower. (CNBC)

The Dow is currently riding a five-day win streak and leads the major averages with a 13.6% year-to-date gain. The S&P 500, meanwhile, has built a three-day win streak and is coming off its 26th record close of the year. While the Nasdaq has been up the past two trading days, the tech-heavy index has posted three consecutive weekly losses and trails the other averages by a significant margin with a 6.7% gain for 2021.

Gasoline futures are up more than 1% Monday morning, as a significant portion of one of America's largest pipelines remains shuttered after a cybersecurity attack. DarkSide, a relatively new Russian criminal group, could be behind the ransomware intrusion, NBC News reported Sunday, citing sources. (CNBC/ NBC News)

Ether, the world's second-largest cryptocurrency by market value, broke above $4,000 for the first time Monday. Ether, which is the Ethereum blockchain's native digital token, has risen more than 450% so far this year, far outpacing the returns of bitcoin over the same period. Ether's market cap is now approaching $500 billion, while bitcoin's remains above $1 trillion. (CNBC)

There are no government economic releases scheduled for today. CNBC's Steve Liesman will be interviewing Chicago Fed President Charles Evans live on "Squawk Box" around 8:30 a.m. ET.

Earnings reports out this morning include Marriott (MAR), Energizer Holdings (ENR), US Foods (USFD), BioNTech (BNTX), The Trade Desk (TTD) and Viatris (VTRS). Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Novavax (NVAX), SmileDirectClub (SDC), Virgin Galactic (SPCE), Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Simon Property (SPG) and Roblox (RBLX) are scheduled to report after today's closing bell.


President Joe Biden will host top Congressional leaders at the White House Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported the meeting, which will include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is expected to partly touch on Biden's latest two spending proposals, to which the GOP has generally expressed opposition. (WSJ)

* In demoting Cheney, GOP holds on to Trump at risk of further alienating others (NBC News)

Eli Lilly (LLY) reached a licensing deal with a trio of Indian generic drugmakers in hopes of boosting the country's supply of its arthritis drug that can be used as a Covid treatment. India remains in the throes of an intense Covid outbreak, with 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths reported Monday. Calls are growing for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement a national lockdown in the world's second-most populous country. (Reuters)

* As cases grow, India's vaccination campaign falters (Associated Press)

BioNTech (BNTX) plans to build a manufacturing facility in Singapore, where the German firm will be able to make its mRNA vaccines and other drugs for cancer and infectious diseases. BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer (PFE) to develop a coronavirus vaccine, will also make Singapore home to its Southeast Asia headquarters. Shares of BioNTech are up more 272.5% in the past 12 months. (CNBC)

* EU leaders raise doubts over U.S. plan to waive Covid vaccine patents (CNBC)

Coronavirus restrictions in the U.K. are likely to further ease in the coming days. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the steps Monday, which includes allowing restaurants and pubs to offer indoor service and a relaxation of restrictions around group gatherings among people from different households. Covid cases in the country have fallen sharply since January and more than 50% of the U.K. population has received at least one vaccine dose. (CNBC)

Elon Musk-led SpaceX is accepting dogecoin as full payment for a lunar payload as part of a mission called "DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon." Geometric Energy Corporation is collaborating with SpaceX to launch the payload. The company announced the transaction with the meme-inspired cryptocurrency Sunday. Musk, who also serves as Tesla CEO, has proclaimed himself the "Dogefather." Privately held SpaceX was valued at more than $70 billion earlier this year. (CNBC)

* Dogecoin plunges nearly 30% during Elon Musk's SNL appearance (CNBC)
* The Winklevoss twins' Gemini exchange now lets you earn interest on your dogecoin (CNBC)

Clubhouse is rolling out a version of its live audio app for Android users in the U.S. The move helps the buzzy startup, which quickly achieved a multi-billion dollar valuation in private markets, expand its pool of potential users. It also comes as the durability of Clubhouse's success has been called into question as Covid restrictions ease and people spend less time at home. (Reuters / CNBC)

Churchill Downs (CHDN) said Sunday it will invalidate Medina Spirit's recent Kentucky Derby victory if it's confirmed that the champion horse failed a drug test. Runner-up Mandaloun will be declared the winner if the finding of Medina Spirit's test is upheld. Churchill Downs also suspended Medina Spirit's trainer, Bob Baffert, from entering horses to compete at its racetrack. (CNBC)


Simon Property (SPG) and Authentic Brands are buying apparel retailer Eddie Bauer from private equity firm Golden Gate Capital for an undisclosed amount. Eddie Bauer will join several other well-known brand names owned by the two companies, including Aeropostale, Forever 21 and Brooks Brothers.

AstraZeneca (AZN) may skip applying to the FDA for emergency use authorization for its Covid vaccine, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. It would instead focus on the more lengthy full approval process.

Activist investor Starboard Value is putting up a minority directors slate for the board of software company Box Inc. (BOX), according to a Bloomberg report. Starboard owns an 8% stake in Box, but does not feel that performance has improved sufficiently since it invested in 2019.

Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) was upgraded to "buy" from "hold" at Jefferies, which said a 13% pullback has provided an attractive entry point for the concert and live event promoter. Jefferies calls Live Nation a "pure-play recovery" and long-term growth story.

Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG) is in talks to buy a portfolio of assets from fellow insurance company Aon (AON) and consulting firm Willis Towers Watson (WLTW) for about $3 billion, according to a Bloomberg report.

UK competition regulators have begun a formal inquiry into the proposed acquisition of Intel's (INTC) flash memory and solid state hard drive businesses by South Korea's SK Hynix. Intel agreed to sell the units to Hynix in October for about $9 billion. Regulators want to determine if the transaction would lead to a substantial lessening of competition.

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