Nike shines, Zelensky visits US, Tesla fired

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By Geoffrey Smith — The strong results of Nike boosted the sportswear maker and led to a general rise in U.S. markets at the open. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to address Congress in person later, on his first trip outside his country since the Russian invasion 10 months ago. Elon Musk plans to step down as CEO of Twitter (NYSE:) as soon as he finds “someone crazy enough” to want to do it, and oil prices hit their highest level in a week , signs that the US government’s move from seller to buyer and G7 moves against Russia point to the availability of crude. Here’s what you need to know in the financial markets this Wednesday, December 21.

1. Nike earnings improve on falling stocks

Shares of Nike (NYSE:) surged after the sports equipment giant said it had rolled back well in reducing its excess inventory over the past three months.

Late in the day on Thursday, Nike reported a massive 27% rise in revenue in constant currency over the past three months and net profit 30% better than expected, declines in North America having been particularly helpful in disposing of excess inventory.

The company therefore increased its expenses for the year as a whole.

If Nike goes, so does the global consumer? It might be a bit of a stretch, but the world’s largest sportswear maker isn’t the worst predictor of consumer discretionary spending. Rivals Adidas (ETR:) and Puma (ETR:) both accelerated in morning European trading, as did British detailed JD Sports (LON:).

2. Zelensky in Washington, Medvedev in Beijing

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to address the U.S. Congress in person later on Wednesday, his first trip outside Ukraine since Russia invaded the country more than 300 days ago.

Zelensky is expected to ask the United States for Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE:) state-of-the-art long-range rocket artillery system, called ATACMS, which would give the country a much greater ability to strike targets in Russia, from where it is produced. drone and missile strikes against Ukraine’s energy and water infrastructure.

The United States has so far resisted less public pressure to include ATACMS in US military aid, fearing an escalation of the conflict.

Overnight, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew to Beijing unannounced for what he described as “very useful” talks with President Xi Jinping. According to Chinese state television, Xi Jinping told Medvedev he was seeking to safeguard ‘peace and talks’ to end a war that is increasingly weighing on Chinese exporters, while strengthening Sino trade ties -Russians.

3. Stocks should open higher; home sales and consumer confidence data are expected

U.S. stock markets were expected to open higher later, building on Tuesday’s stabilization as the shock of Japanese monetary policy tightening was absorbed.

By 1:30 p.m., they were up 272 points or 0.8%, while earnings were up 0.6% and earnings were up 0.4%, with Nike’s results clearly showing the tone.

Other stocks likely to receive particular attention include FedEx (NYSE:), whose quarterly update on Tuesday was not as impressive.

Cintas (NASDAQ:) will release results early today, while chipmaker Micron (NASDAQ:) will release results after the bell. The publication for the months of November is the main economic information at 4:00 p.m., as well as the Conference Board index.

4. Musk can’t leave Twitter; Tesla would freeze hiring

Elon Musk may be stepping down as CEO of Twitter, but he’s not focusing exclusively on Tesla (NASDAQ:) until he irons out the social media site’s operational issues.

Musk tweeted on Tuesday that “I will step down as CEO as soon as I find someone crazy enough to take the job! After that, I will just lead the software and server teams.” He said last week that the task of saving Twitter would be too much for few.

Tesla’s stock fell 8% in reaction on Tuesday, but rallied slightly in early trading, despite a report from Elektrek magazine that the EV maker will announce another round of layoffs and a hiring freeze during the next quarter.

5. Oil up on falling inventories and fear of Russian exports

Crude oil prices hit a one-week high after the reported a bigger-than-expected drop in crude oil inventories last week – which may or may not be corroborated by the government’s own at 4:30 p.m.

Russian media reports that the country’s overall oil exports fell 11% from a year earlier in the three weeks following the imposition of the G7 price cap also supported prices, fueling fears of a prolonged shortage of Russian oil.

By 1:35 p.m., oil futures were up 1.6% at $77.43 a barrel, while oil was up 1.7% at $81.35 a barrel.

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