U.S. stock futures are trading lower in early morning trading today. This comes after a relatively good session for the broader stock market. Now, a main focus for investors could be the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war. In particular, a growing concern would be the widespread economic impacts stemming from the conflict. This includes long-term supply chain disruptions and increasing sanctions.
Providing further insight into this would be JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) CEO, Jamie Dimon. In his latest annual shareholder letter, Dimon writes that the ongoing invasion of Ukraine will likely decelerate the U.S. and global economy. According to JPMorgan economists, the war and resulting sanctions on Russia could see the U.S. economy grow by 2.5% this year. This would be a reduction from the bank’s initial GDP forecast of a 3% growth. Also, Dimon argues that “many more,” sanctions could be incoming as tensions continue to rise. As of 6:29 a.m. ET, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq futures are trading lower by 0.26%, 0.26%, and 0.28% respectively.
Aterian Surges Following Possible Short-Squeeze Momentum
In the news today, we have the likes of Aterian (NASDAQ: ATER). For the most part, this is thanks to ATER stock gaining by as much as 53% during intraday trading yesterday. Following that, the company’s shares are now up by over 8% in pre-market trading today. Before going into the details, let’s have a brief introduction to Aterian. In general, it identifies as a tech-enabled consumer products platform. Through its operations, Aterian builds, acquires, and partners with best-in-class e-commerce brands to create consumer products. To highlight, the company’s Artificial Intelligence Marketplace Ecommerce Engine (AIMEE) leverages AI, natural language processing, and data analytics to streamline product management. It does so for some of the world’s largest online marketplaces. This includes Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Shopify (NYSE: SHOP), and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) to name a few.
More importantly, ATER stock’s monumental gains at this week’s opening bell would turn some heads now. With no apparent press releases or SEC filings fueling this growth, some are suspecting a potential short-squeeze. In other words, mentions of Aterian becoming another meme stock are now making the rounds. As it stands, analysts over at D.A. Davidson has a ‘Buy’ rating on ATER stock alongside a price target of $7. In this case, the firm would be indicating a possible upside of about 104% from its closing price of $3.42 a share yesterday. As stocks continue to steady from a volatile first quarter, ATER stock could be an exciting play for some now.
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Roku Lands Multi-Year Distribution Partnership Extension With Amazon
On the digital entertainment front, Roku (NASDAQ: ROKU) continues to press forward on the operational front. Namely, the company is maintaining its ongoing partnership with Amazon’s Prime Video platform. According to a press release from Roku, the duo are going forward with a multi-year extension for their distribution agreement. Simply put, this will ensure that Roku customers can continue to access the Prime Video and IMDb TV apps. While the terms of the agreement were not disclosed, this is still a positive update from Roku.
After all, as video streaming firms like Amazon continue to ramp up their offerings, content aggregators like Roku would thrive. This could be the case as Roku serves as a one-stop hub for some of the top streaming services in the market today. The likes of which range from Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Disney’s (NYSE: DIS) Disney+ to AT&T’s (NYSE: T) HBO Max, and Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Apple TV+. Not to mention, this comes as Roku rolls out the latest update to its in-platform operating system, Roku OS. With Roku OS 11, the company is bringing further quality-of-life updates alongside new photo-sharing features. All of which serve to refine and add a sense of interactivity to the Roku streaming experience.
By ensuring that its offerings remain relevant, Roku can ideally retain its membership across the board. With all this in mind, investors looking at video streaming stocks could be considering ROKU stock now.
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Merck Boosts Manufacturing Capacity For HPV Vaccines In Virginia Plan
Elsewhere, Merck (NYSE: MRK) has expanded its manufacturing capabilities now. In detail, the company has done this at its Elkton, Virginia plant to bolster the supply of its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. According to Merck, the recent investments into the site will continue to help it meet growing demands globally. Going into the specifics, this involves the construction of a 120,000 square feet expansion to its current facility. Following that, the company now has 150 new jobs and a greater capacity and supply of its HPV vaccines.
Speaking on this is Merck’s global lead for HPV Vaccines, Priya Agrawal. She notes, “Through our long-term agreement with UNICEF, we plan to provide 91.5 million doses of our HPV vaccines for use in Gavi-supported countries from 2021-2025, and we have offered additional doses beyond that agreement.” Not forgetting, Merck has also nearly doubled the supply of its HPV vaccine from 2017 to 2020. Looking forward, it expects the same growth through 2023 as it doubles down on building new facilities. After considering Merck’s current momentum, I could see MRK stock gaining attention in the stock market today.
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Hertz Looks To Buy 65,000 EVs From Polestar
Car rental firm Hertz (NASDAQ: HTZ) appears to be making a solid push toward electrifying its rental fleet. As of yesterday, the company is planning to purchase up to 65,000 electric vehicles (EVs) from Swedish EV maker Polestar. Hertz is planning to make these transactions over the next five years. This significant addition of zero-emission models to its fleet would signal that Hertz is adapting to the times. As vehicle emission regulations continue to tighten, some would argue that this move benefits Hertz in the long run.
By the company’s estimates, it will begin offering Polestar EVs in Europe this Spring. Moreover, Hertz also states that customers in North America and Australia will likely have this option later this year. For one thing, this is not all that surprising news coming from Hertz. Recall the company’s plans to order 100,000 EVs from Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) back in October 2021. In fact, as of last month, Hertz now has Tesla’s mid-size SUV Model Y on its rental portfolio as well. Overall, the company is actively expanding its offerings while adapting to shifting demands in the automotive space. Whether HTZ stock can benefit from this moving forward remains to be seen.
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