5 things to know before the stock market opens Tuesday

Here's the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

  • Dow set to surge after best month since 1987
  • Fed chief Powell to testify on lending programs
  • CDC panel to meet on who gets Covid vaccine first
  • Pfizer, BioNTech apply for vaccine approval in Europe
  • Tesla to be added to S&P 500 in a single step

1. Dow set to surge after best month since 1987

Dow futures pointed to a 300 point gain at Tuesday's open, setting up Wall Street to start December with a strong rally. While stumbling 271 points on Monday, the 30-stock average closed out November with a nearly 12% advance for its best month in more than 33 years. Promising Covid-19 vaccine developments released over the past four Mondays boosted market confidence that life and pandemic-stricken economies in the U.S. and around the world may soon start to return to some semblance of normal.

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Bitcoin rose to another record just below $20,000 on Tuesday morning before pulling back, according to the Coin Metrics price that's consolidated from various cryptocurrency exchanges. Bitcoin topped $19,000 last Wednesday for the first time since 2017's all-time highs. The world's biggest cryptocurrency pulled back over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend before resuming its rally Monday and Tuesday. Bitcoin, up more than 175% in 2020, nearly doubled since early September alone. It has been the best performing asset class of this year of the coronavirus.

2. Fed chief Powell to testify on lending programs

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will emphasize the importance of lending programs deployed by the central bank during the pandemic, according testimony he's set to deliver to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday morning. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who will join Powell, has said that the legislation that enabled the programs does not permit them to run past Dec. 31.

More than 30 Democratic senators are pushing for an extension of special pandemic unemployment benefits that cover 12 million workers and expire the day after Christmas. The move comes as roughly a dozen senators from both sides of the aisle try to break the stalemate ahead of the deadline to fund the federal government.

3. CDC panel to meet on who gets Covid-19 vaccine first

A CDC advisory panel meets Tuesday to vote on how scarce initial supplies of Covid vaccine will be given out upon FDA approval. Vaccine manufacturers have begun stockpiling doses in anticipation of regulatory clearance, but the first shots will be in short supply and rationed. Health workers and people age 65 and older are expected to be among the initial recipients. U.S. drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have sought FDA emergency use authorization for their vaccines, which employ a new approach that uses genetic material to provoke an immune response.

4. Pfizer, BioNTech apply for vaccine approval in Europe

Less than two weeks after applying for FDA clearance in the U.S., Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said Tuesday they have applied to the European Medicines Agency for the conditional marketing authorization of their coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, the FAA said it supported the "first mass air shipment" of Covid vaccine. United Airlines carried Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine from Brussels to Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Friday, according to people familiar with the matter.

5. Tesla to be added to S&P 500 in a single step

Tesla will be added to the S&P 500 before the open on Dec. 21 in a single step despite its more than $500 billion market value, forgoing a possible phased approach that was considered to ease the impact of adding such a large company to the U.S. stock benchmark. The company that Tesla will replace will be named on Dec. 11. Shares of Tesla, up over 575% this year, added another 5% in premarket trading.

Zoom Video Communications shares were under pressure even as the company late Monday reported fiscal third-quarter earnings and quarterly guidance that exceeded analyst expectations. Investors seemed disappointed that the rate of revenue growth, which has accelerated this year, could moderate. Shares of Zoom, up more than 600% in 2020, fell 6% in Tuesday's premarket.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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