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What to Watch Today: S&P 500 Set to Start August Higher After Six Straight Monthly Gains

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BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures gained ground ahead of the first trading day of August after the S&P 500 logged its sixth straight monthly gain in July. While dropping Friday and last week, the S&P 500 and the Dow headed into the new month within 1% of their latest record high closes set last Monday. The Nasdaq, which also fell Friday and last week, remained just over 1% shy of last Monday's record close. (CNBC)

Volatility in financial markets has recently increased as Covid cases in the U.S. spiked due to the delta variant. The 10-year Treasury yield was steady Monday, around 1.23%. The yield, which moves inversely to price, hit a 5½-month low of nearly 1.13% last month. (CNBC)

In the week ahead, three reports looking at the health of the labor market kicks off Wednesday with the ADP's July private-sector jobs report. The government's weekly look at initial jobless claims and July employment report are out Thursday and Friday, respectively. More than a quarter of S&P 500 companies are set to issue quarterly earnings in the coming week. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

In a rare weekend session, senators finalized the text of their $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will next be introduced to the Senate. Many Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want to pass the infrastructure bill alongside a much larger go-it-alone $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. (CNBC)

The Treasury Department will begin conducting emergency cash-conservation steps on Monday to avoid busting the federal borrowing limit after a two-year suspension of the debt ceiling expired at the end of July. That should buy Congress enough time to raise or suspend the debt ceiling. The alternative would be a never-before-seen default on U.S. debt. (CNBC)

Evictions, which have mostly been on pause during the pandemic, are expected to ramp up Monday after a federal moratorium expired over the weekend. House lawmakers on Friday attempted but failed to pass a bill to extend eviction relief even for a few months. More than 15 million people live in households that owe as much as $20 billion to their landlords, according to the Aspen Institute think tank. (AP)

The delta-driven increase of Covid infections around the country is being felt particularly hard in Florida. A day after recording the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke a record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago, before vaccines were available. The latest seven-day average of new daily infections in the U.S. increased 54% from a week ago. (AP)

* Health experts fear unlocked England could become an incubator for new Covid variants (CNBC)

Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer (PFE) both raised prices for their Covid vaccines in their latest supply contracts, according to the Financial Times. Additionally, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA is under pressure to give both vaccines full approval.

A preponderance of evidence proves the virus that caused the Covid pandemic leaked from a Chinese research facility, claimed a report by U.S. Republicans released on Monday, a conclusion that American intelligence agencies have not reached. The report also cited "ample evidence" that Wuhan Institute of Virology were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden. (Reuters)

Square (SQ) plans to buy Australian fintech Afterpay as it looks to expand into the booming installment loan market. Jack Dorsey's payments company announced the $29 billion, all-stock deal on Sunday evening. The price tag marks a roughly 30% premium to Afterpay's closing price Friday. Shares of Afterpay in Australia closed nearly 19% higher Monday. Square shares fell 4% in Monday's premarket. (CNBC)

* Defense firm Meggitt's shares skyrocket on sale to U.S. giant Parker-Hannifin (CNBC)

More than 300,000 users of Robinhood (HOOD) bought shares in the popular stock trading app's IPO last week, according to The Wall Street Journal. That represents about 1.3% of the company's funded account base. Robinhood added 1.5% in premarket trading. The stock, as of Friday's close, remained below its $38 offer price.

Federal officials used charges against Nikola (NKLA) founder Trevor Milton as a warning to Wall Street about special purpose acquisitions companies. Officials allege Milton abused the SPAC process by using social media and other mediums to continually spew lies and misleading information about the company directly to retail investors. (CNBC)

Simone Biles will compete in tomorrow's balance beam final. It will be the first time the 24-year-old American will be seen competing at the Tokyo Olympics following her withdrawal from last Tuesday's team final after her opening vault, citing mental health issues. Biles in 2016 won four golds at the Rio Games. (Reuters)

* Activists says a Belarus Olympian plans to seek asylum in Poland (AP)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Zoom Video (ZM) agreed to pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit accusing it violated the privacy rights of users. It also agreed to beef up its security practices to prevent so-called "Zoombombing," where hackers disrupted Zoom meetings.

General Electric (GE) has completed its previously announced one-for-eight reverse stock split and will begin trading on a post-split basis today.

Foot Locker (FL) announced a deal to buy California-based shoe store chain WSS for $750 million and Japan-based streetwear brand Atmos for $360 million.

Discovery (DISCA) is in informal talks about a potential bid for British state-owned broadcaster Channel 4, according to Britain's Telegraph newspaper.

China-based electric vehicle maker Li Auto (LI) delivered 8,589 vehicles in July, an increase of 125% compared to July 2020. The U.S.-based shares Li Auto surged 4.3% in the premarket.

WATERCOOLER

Walt Disney's (DIS) "Jungle Cruise" sailed to a better-than-expected weekend opening of $34.2 million at the domestic box office, despite growing concerns that a surge in coronavirus cases could keep families at home. The movie made additional $27.6 million internationally and $30 million from digital sales on Disney+. (CNBC)

* MTV marks 40th anniversary with a new ‘Moon Person’ design (AP)

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