5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday

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

  • Wall Street looks steady after Nasdaq's record high close
  • Fed's Powell sees 1970s-style inflation in U.S. as very unlikely
  • Bitcoin bounces after Tuesday's wild ride sparks concern
  • House panel to debate Big Tech bills; Biden to unveil anti-crime measures
  • Buffett donates another $4.1 billion, resigns as Gates Foundation trustee

1. Wall Street looks steady after Nasdaq's record high close

U.S. stock futures were flat Wednesday, one day after the Nasdaq erased earlier losses as bitcoin staged an intraday comeback. The tech-heavy index climbed to a record close. The S&P 500 finished just shy of last week's record close. Microsoft became the second company to surpass a $2 trillion market value, achieving that mark during Tuesday's session. Apple, currently worth $2.2 trillion, was the first. Like the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, the Dow on Tuesday also logged its second straight positive session. But after last week's plunge, the 30-stock average still needs to add nearly 2.5% to top its latest record high close in early May.

2. Fed's Powell sees 1970s-style inflation in U.S. as very unlikely

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's latest reassurances about inflation put a lid on bond yields. The 10-year Treasury yield was little changed early Wednesday, trading around 1.47%. But even with U.S. oil prices topping $73 per barrel in this year's 52% surge, Powell continued to attribute most of the recent inflation surge to factors closely tied to the economic recovery from the pandemic. The Fed chief told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Tuesday that the U.S. is unlikely to face a repeat of 1970s-style hyperinflation, primarily because of the central bank's commitment to price stability.

3. Bitcoin bounces after Tuesday's wild ride sparks concern

Bitcoin rose 5% and topped $34,000 on Wednesday, a day after the world's biggest cryptocurrency by market value sank below $29,000 and briefly went negative for the year. China's intensified crackdown on bitcoin mining and crypto activities has contributed to recent selling. Tuesday's breach below $30,000 set off all kinds of technical warning bells and speculation about whether bitcoin would stabilize or march lower. During Tuesday's wild ride, bitcoin fought back into positive territory. The digital currency, as of early Wednesday, has lost nearly 50% since its all-time high near $65,000 in late April.

4. House panel to debate Big Tech bills; Biden to unveil anti-crime measures

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will debate six bills aimed at limiting the power of big technology firms, including Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet's Google. In a preemptive strike, Apple argued in a 16-page paper posted on its website against language in some of the bills that could force the iPhone giant to allow software downloads from outside its App Store.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday will outline actions his administration is taking to curb the recent rise in violent crime and gun violence. Biden will announce tougher enforcement standards for gun dealers who violate federal laws. The president will also encourage state and local governments to use pandemic relief funds for crime prevention, including hiring police officers.

5. Buffett donates another $4.1 billion, resigns as Gates Foundation trustee

Warren Buffett said Wednesday he will donate another $4.1 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to five foundations, marking the halfway point in his 2006 pledge to give away nearly all of his wealth to charity. Buffett also said in a press release that he will resign as the trustee at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which comes as the organization is facing a tumultuous time with the divorce of its two founders. "My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals," Buffett added.

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