5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

1. Dow set to open at new highs, joining the S&P and Nasdaq a record levels

© Provided by CNBC Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange, December 30, 2019.

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a new intraday high for the Dow Jones Industrial Average at Thursday’s open on Wall Street. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit new intraday highs Wednesday, with the Nasdaq also closing at a record, on easing concerns about U.S.-Iran hostilities escalating. Ahead of Friday’s monthly government employment report for December, the Labor Department releases its weekly look at first-time jobless claims. Economists estimate that 220,000 people filed applications for unemployment benefits last week. Private payroll growth ended 2019 on a strong note, with companies adding 202,000 positions in December, according to a report Wednesday from ADP and Moody’s Analytics.

2. China’s top trade negotiator to sign phase-one deal in Washington next week

© Provided by CNBC Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (waving) is escorted by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (R) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin into the USTR offices as they begin another round of trade negotiations October 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Images)

Perhaps adding to the rally in stock futures, confirmation from China that its top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, will sign the phase-one trade agreement in Washington next week. Negotiating teams from both sides remain in close communication on the particular arrangements of the signing, the Commerce Ministry also said on Thursday. President Donald Trump, on New Year’s Eve, said the China trade deal would be signed on Jan. 15 at the White House. Trump also said he would later travel to Beijing to begin talks on the next phase.

3. House to vote to limit Trump’s power to take military action against Iran

© Provided by CNBC U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks about the remaining legislative business and the House of Representatives vote to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump during her final weekly news conference of 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2019.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote Thursday on a resolution to curb Trump’s power to take military action against Iran, two days after Tehran retaliated for last week’s U.S. killing of a top Iranian general. Iran on Tuesday night launched missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces. On Wednesday, Trump said Iran “appears to be standing down” after the airstrikes, and that he would increase “punishing” sanctions rather than take further military action.

4. ‘First five days’ rule points to a potentially strong market in 2020

Stocks finished the first five trading days of 2020 higher, setting up for a potentially strong performance in the full year, based on an old Wall Street indicator. If stocks perform well in the initial couple of sessions in a given year, the market is often up at year-end, according to the “first five days” rule. The Stock Trader’s Almanac, which studied the market phenomenon going back to 1950, found that the first five days have a good track record of predicting the whole year.

© Provided by CNBC

5. Tesla’s stock value tops the combined market caps of GM and Ford

© Provided by CNBC Elon Musk attends the groundbreaking ceremony of the Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai, east China, on January 7, 2019.

Shares of Tesla, which more than doubled since late September, were steady in premarket trading after another new high. The Silicon Valley electric auto maker jumped nearly 5% on Wednesday, closing at a record $492.14 per share, elevating its stock market value to almost $89 billion. That’s about $2 billion larger than the combined market capitalization of General Motors and Ford, which respectively have market caps of about $50 billion and $37 billion. Tesla’s surge has been fueled by a surprise third-quarter profit, progress at a new factory in China and better-than-expected car deliveries in the fourth quarter.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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