Nikola, Tesla, Dow Futures, TikTok - 5 Things You Must Know Monday

Stock futures fall as coronavirus infections rise and prospects for a U.S. fiscal stimulus bill dim; Nikola’s founder steps down as executive chairman; President Trump approves Oracle’s deal with TikTok.

Here are five things you must know for Monday, Sept. 21:

1. — Stock Futures Point to Sharp Losses on Wall Street

Stock futures were falling sharply Monday following Wall Street’s third straight weekly decline as investors worried a global recovery could be hampered by a rise in coronavirus infections and as prospects for a U.S. fiscal stimulus bill have dimmed.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average 584 points, S&P 500 futures dropped 61 points and Nasdaq futures slumped 184 points.

Stocks finished lower Friday as tech shares – which led the stock market rebound earlier this year – were again the leading decliners.

The S&P 500 ended down 1.12%, falling for a third day, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 1.07%. Both indexes have declined for three straight weeks.

Global coronavirus infections have surpassed 31 million, with U.S. cases accounting for 6.8 million of the total. Deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University, were just under 200,000.

In the U.K., coronavirus cases have seen a significant increase. The government reported Sunday new infections of 4,422, the biggest daily rise since early May. An official estimate showed new cases and hospital admissions have been doubling every week, the Associated Press reported.

In the U.S., little progress has been made on a new coronavirus stimulus package as Republicans and Democrats remain in a stalemate. The negotiations could become even more complicated following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as lawmakers prepare for what could be an historic nomination fight ahead of November’s presidential election.

2. — Nikola’s Milton Steps Down as Executive Chairman

Nikola’s  (NKLA) – Get Report founder Trevor Milton stepped down as executive chairman following reports last week that the Securities and Exchange Commission was probing the electric-vehicle startup for allegations of fraud levied by short-seller Hindenburg Research

Milton, who founded Nikola in 2014, was replaced by board member Stephen Girsky, who was appointed chairman.

Girsky is a former vice chairman of General Motors  (GM) – Get Report, which earlier this month agreed to acquire a $2 billion stake in Nikola and make its new pickup truck.

“Nikola is truly in my blood and always will be, and the focus should be on the company and its world-changing mission, not me,” Milton said in a statement released by the company. “So I made the difficult decision to approach the board and volunteer to step aside as executive chairman. Founding Nikola and growing it into a company that will change transportation for the better and help protect our world’s climate has been an incredible honor.”

Hindenburg Research has described Nikola as a “an intricate fraud built on dozens of lies,” and also claimed that Milton hyped his company’s battery technology after becoming aware of issues related to a planned acquisition in October 2019.

Milton said on Twitter late Sunday he would defend himself against “false allegations leveled against me by outside detractors.”

Nikola shares fell 23.16% to $26.27 in premarket trading Monday.

3. — Oracle Deal With TikTok Gets Trump’s ‘Blessing’

Oracle  (ORCL) – Get Report reached a deal with China’s ByteDance to become the secure cloud technology provider for its video-sharing app, TikTok, and take a minority stake in the company along with Walmart  (WMT) – Get Report.

President Donald Trump said Saturday he approved the deal, a day before the Commerce Department was to block any new downloads of the app over national security concerns. The agreement delays the ban for at least a week.

“I have given the deal my blessing,” Trump said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.”

Oracle will own a 12.5% stake in the new entity called TikTok Global, while Walmart has agreed to purchase 7.5%.

TikTok’s current owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, would retain roughly 80% ownership of the company. ByteDance said TikTok Global ultimately will be taken public onto an as-yet unnamed stock exchange.

Separately, WeChat will remain operating in the U.S. after a federal judge issued an injunction against Trump’s executive order that would have banned the Chinese social media app, which is owned by Tencent Holdings.

4. — Fed’s Powell Highlights This Week’s Calendar

The economic calendar in the U.S. Monday includes the Chicago National Activity Index for August at 8:30 a.m. ET. Later in the week, data will be released on Existing-Home Sales, New Home Sales, Jobless Claims and Durable Goods.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has appearances planned this week before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Wednesday and the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

The earnings calendar is light Monday but reports later in the week will be released by Nike  (NKE) – Get Report, Costco  (COST) – Get Report, General Mills  (GIS) – Get Report, Aurora Cannabis  (ACB) – Get Report, Stitch Fix  (SFIX) – Get Report, Darden Restaurants  (DRI) – Get Report and Rite Aid  (RAD) – Get Report.

5. — Tesla’s ‘Battery Day’ Is Tuesday

The most highly anticipated event this week could be Tesla’s “Battery Day” on Tuesday.

It’s no longer a secret that Tesla has been developing a battery cell that the electric carmaker plans to produce itself. The expectation is for Tesla to disclose the details of such a cell at Battery Day, likely featuring a larger form factor and a tabless design, according to Tesla Daily’s Rob Maurer. Both should be advantageous to energy density and battery cost per kWh, he added.

Analyst Dan Ives at Wedbush said he believes Tesla “is getting closer to announcing the million mile battery at this highly anticipated event. In our opinion this battery technology will be very advanced, potentially last for decades, withstand all types of weather/terrain, and be another major milestone for the Tesla ecosystem.”

Why Jim Cramer Says Tesla’s Battery Day Is ‘Very Bullish’