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What to Watch Today: Stocks Set for Steady Open After 2021 Started Lower

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BY THE NUMBERS

Stock futures were largely flat, following the worst start to a year since 2016, which was also the last time the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted January losses.  Although the major averages did finish Monday trading well off their worst levels, the Dow and S&P 500 still posted their largest one-day declines since Oct. 28. The Dow dropped 1.3%, while the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq both fell 1.5%. (CNBC)

Wall Street's attention will in large part be focused on today's Georgia runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate. Both Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, must beat GOP incumbents, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, to capture the majority for their party. (CNBC)

* Senate runoffs in Georgia will shape what Biden can achieve in the White House (CNBC)

The Institute for Supply Management is out with its December manufacturing index at 10 a.m. ET, which is expected to fall slightly to a 57 reading. Meanwhile, automakers release their fourth quarter sales figures for 2020 throughout the morning, with analysts surveyed by Edmunds expecting an overall 5.7% drop on U.S. sales compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Shares of China Telecom (CHA), China Unicom (CHU) and China Mobile (CHL) were soaring in premarket trading after the New York Stock Exchange said it no longer plans to delist the three Chinese telecommunications giants. It's a reversal of a decision announced a few days earlier, which had been made in compliance with an executive order signed by President Donald Trump. (CNBC)

Carl Icahn, in remarks to CNBC's Scott Wapner, warned that stocks could face a significant decline in the future and he indicated he was hedged accordingly. "In my day I've seen a lot of wild rallies with a lot of mispriced stocks, but there is one thing they all have in common. Eventually they hit a wall and go into a major painful correction. Nobody can predict when it will happen, but when that does happen, look out below," the billionaire investor said. (CNBC)

* Wharton's Jeremy Siegel: 'Dow could easily tack on another 10% to 15%,' but warns of a near-term setback (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another national lockdown for England on Monday, a strict public-health measure he said he hopes will help contain a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus. The U.K. has now reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections for seven days in a row, and Johnson said deaths are "up by 20% over the last week and will sadly rise further." Johnson said he believes the country was entering its "last phase of the struggle" against Covid-19 due to the rollout of vaccines. (CNBC)

* Germany set to extend hard lockdown as daily deaths mount (Associated Press)

New York has discovered its first case of the coronavirus variant initially found in the U.K., according to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. While the strain does not appear more deadly, experts have said it appears to spread more easily. It also has been detected in Colorado, California and Florida. Cuomo said he believes the new variant is "much more" prevalent than currently known. (CNBC)

* New York Gov. Cuomo to propose law making it a crime to skip the line for Covid vaccine (CNBC)
* Just 1% of Californians immunized amid slow vaccine rollout (Associated Press)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration pushed back on the suggestion to change the dosing or schedules of Covid-19 vaccines, saying the currently available data does not support such alterations. The FDA acknowledged the suggestions were made with the hopes of rolling out the vaccine more broadly to the public. However, with "adequate scientific evidence," the regulatory agency said it believes changing the dosing amount or delaying the second shot by a few more weeks "may ultimately be counterproductive to public health." (Reuters)

* UK is delaying second vaccine shots and it's proving controversial. Here's what we know so far (CNBC)

Ahead of today's crucial runoff election in Georgia, Republican Sens. Loeffler and Perdue were recipients of a late surge of donations from the real estate and financial industries. Their Democratic opponents, Warnock and Ossoff, had otherwise held advantages in fundraising during the races. (CNBC)

At an outdoor rally in Georgia, Trump declared he intended to "fight like hell" to retain the presidency and appealed to GOP lawmakers to reverse his loss to President-elect Joe Biden when they meet Wednesday to confirm the Electoral College vote. Trump spent much of his speech complaining about his election loss, which he falsely and repeatedly claims he won. (AP)

Supporters of Trump are planning to protest the expected Biden Electoral College vote certification with demonstrations Tuesday night and Wednesday in the nation's capital. The National Guard has been mobilized to keep the peace in Washington. Trump has encouraged the protesters, tweeting Sunday he will be there. (NBC News)

The joint venture to disrupt health care created by Amazon (AMZN), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is being disbanded after three years. Known has Haven, the organization was created with the goal of working to lower costs and improve outcomes in health care. The three companies are likely to collaborate informally in the future on health-care initiatives, but the formal end of Haven may be an indication of how challenging it is to dramatically improve American health care. (CNBC)

The chief executive of Qualcomm (QCOM) is retiring later this year and will be replaced by the chipmaker's president, Cristiano Amon. CEO Steve Mollenkopf, who is 52, took over the job in 2014. His departure comes as the company stands to benefit from the broader rollout of 5G networks. Shares of Qualcomm have gained 96.7% since he became CEO.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Moderna (MRNA) received approval for its Covid-19 vaccine from Israeli health regulators. Israel is the third country to approve the use of Moderna's vaccine, and the first outside North America.

Alibaba (BABA) plans to shut down its music streaming platform Xiami Music next month. The e-commerce company bought Xiami in 2013 in hopes of competing in the country's online music market, but it only has about 2% of a market dominated by Tencent Holdings.

Twitter (TWTR) bought podcast app Breaker for an undisclosed amount, and will shut down Breaker's app and website. Breaker said customers can now transfer their subscriptions to other podcast apps.

Apache Corp. (APA) is switching to a holding company structure. The oil and gas producer will create a holding company called APA Corp. that will replace Apache as the publicly traded entity on Nasdaq, with Apache becoming a unit of APA. The stock will retain the APA ticker symbol.

Mondelez (MDLZ) is near a deal to buy the part of chocolate bar maker Hu that it doesn't already own, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal would value Hu at about $340 million, with people familiar with the matter saying an announcement could come this week.

Jefferies Financial Group (JEF) reported quarterly earnings of $1.11 per share, well above the 50 cent consensus estimate, and the investment firm also saw revenue come in substantially above analyst forecasts. Jefferies also raised its quarterly dividend to 20 cents per share from 15 cents and increased its share repurchase authorization.

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