5 things to know before the stock market opens Friday

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

  • Wall Street set for a steady open after record closes
  • Moderna on track to become second Covid vaccine in U.S.
  • J&J says its first late-stage vaccine trial fully enrolled
  • Coronavirus deaths in U.S. top 3,000 for 4th time this month
  • FedEx earnings beat but shares drop; Tesla set to join S&P 500

1. Wall Street set for a steady open after Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq closed at records

U.S. stock futures were little changed Friday, with Wall Street wondering whether Capitol Hill can deliver a new Covid-19 stimulus package and a spending bill before government funding authorization ends at midnight. Hopes that those measures come together pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq to record closing highs. All three stock benchmarks were tracking for solid weekly gains, with the Nasdaq up more than 3% as of Thursday's close.

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Bitcoin traded above $23,000 overnight after topping that level for the first time ever Thursday before pairing its gains. The world's largest cryptocurrency has soared more than 350% in 2020, by far the year's best performing asset class. Bitcoin's incredible rally has been fueled by increased demand from institutional investors using bitcoin as an inflation hedge.

2. Moderna on track to become second Covid vaccine approved in U.S. for emergency use

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine on Thursday received a positive recommendation from an FDA panel, setting up possible emergency use authorization from the agency Friday. Moderna's vaccine was poised to become the second to be cleared in America. One week ago, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on an emergency basis. Health-care workers in the U.S. started to get their Pfizer shots this week. The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna both are two shots.

Vice President Mike Pence was vaccinated before the cameras Friday morning. There's no word when President Donald Trump, who had Covid, will get his shot. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a polio survivor, plan to get vaccinated in the next few days. President-elect Joe Biden could be vaccinated as soon as next week.

3. J&J says its first late-stage vaccine trial fully enrolled with 45,000 participants

Johnson & Johnson said the first late-stage trial for its coronavirus vaccine candidate has been fully enrolled with 45,000 participants. J&J expects interim data on the single-dose vaccine by late January and hopes to submit an emergency use authorization application to the FDA in February.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said its Covid antibody cocktail effectively reduced viral load and reduced the need for medical visits, according to data from a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The treatment, available in the U.S. for emergency use, was given to Trump when he had Covid this fall.

4. Coronavirus deaths in U.S. top 3,000 for 4th time this month

Another Covid vaccine and more widely available treatments can't came soon enough as the U.S. seven-day daily case average continued to run at record highs over 216,600. Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. on Thursday were more than 3,000 for the fourth time this month. The seven-day average of daily fatalities was over 2,600. The U.S. has had more than 17.2 million total cases and at least 310,699 deaths as of Friday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. As of Thursday, a record 114,237 people were in hospitals across the U.S., according to the Covid Tracking Project.

5. FedEx earnings beat but shares drop; Tesla set to join S&P 500

Citing persistent uncertainty during the pandemic, FedEx saw its shares drop 3% in Friday's premarket. The delivery giant, which actually continued to get a coronavirus boost, reported adjusted quarterly profit of $4.83 per share, 82 cents above consensus estimates, with revenue beating estimates as well. FedEx and UPS are key players in the U.S. effort to deliver Covid vaccines.

Shares of Tesla, up over 680% this year, were steady Friday morning. Before trading begins Monday, the electric automaker will be added to the S&P 500. Tesla will be the largest ever addition to the index based on market capitalization, leading investors to speculate about how it will impact the S&P 500 as well as the trillions of dollars that are benchmarked to it.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real time with CNBC Pro's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.

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