5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 25, 2023. 

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:

1. The earnings march goes on

We’re deeper into earnings season, so investors are getting more and more data to chew over every day. Tesla, IBM and Levi Strauss headlined Wednesday’s after the bell earnings, while several more hit Thursday, including Comcast before the bell and Intel after the market closes. U.S. stock markets, meanwhile, are coming off a mixed day. The Dow squeaked out a win after falling more than 400 points earlier in the session. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell slightly. Read live markets updates here.

2. It’s GDP time

A person shops at a supermarket in New York City on December 14, 2022.

Yuki Iwamura | AFP | Getty Images

Investors will also be locked into the fourth quarter gross domestic product report. GDP came in at an annualized rate of 2.9% down from the 3.2% in the third quarter. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones GDP grew by 2.8%. Market watchers and economists are looking for clues about what the economy will do this year. Talk of a recession is building, although there are some who believe the U.S. will avoid such a slowdown in 2023. And if we do experience a recession this year, it could be light, as consumers have remained resilient despite inflation and the job market remains strong.

3. A nice pop for Tesla

A worker checks Tesla Model Y electric vehicles loaded onto a freight trailer at the Tesla Inc. Gigafactory in Gruenheide, Germany, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. Tesla CEO Elon Musk played down how much impact his tweets have on the company’s stock price as he defended himself at a trial in San Francisco federal court on Friday over his 2018 tweet about taking the electric car-maker private. Photographer: Liesa Johannssen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla shares jumped after the electric vehicles leader posted quarterly results that topped Wall Street’s expectations. Margins, meanwhile, fell to their lowest point in five quarters as it cut prices and dealt with rising costs. Still, the big story for Tesla was whether it could weather a dip in demand for its cars, especially as competitors bring more of their own EVs to the market. Tesla slashed prices for several of its vehicles late last year and earlier this month in a bid to goose demand. So far, it looks like it’s working. “Thus far in January we’ve seen the strongest orders year-to-date than ever in our history. We’re currently seeing orders of almost twice the rate of production,” CEO Elon Musk said.

4. Smartphone shipments slow

Apple maintained its position as the world’s largest smartphone maker by shipments in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to IDC. However, iPhone shipments declined 14.9% year-on-year.

Stanislav Kogiku | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Shipments of smartphones declined across the globe during the holiday shopping quarter, according to IDC, a market research firm. Overall, firms shipped 18.3% fewer smartphones than they did in the same quarter of 2021, representing the biggest-ever decline. For the full year, companies shipped 1.21 billion smartphones, which is the lowest annual total since 2013. “We have never seen shipments in the holiday quarter come in lower than the previous quarter. However, weakened demand and high inventory caused vendors to cut back drastically on shipments,” IDC research director Nabila Popal said. Apple remained the top smartphone producer, although its shipments declined, too.

5. Toyota’s CEO will step aside

Akio Toyoda with new Toyota Supra

Paul Eisenstein | CNBC

Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder, will step out of the company’s CEO role come April 1. He will become chairman, while the company’s branding chief, Koji Sato, will take over as chief executive. Toyoda spent much of his most recent years leading the auto giant defending his decision not to fully embrace electric vehicles, saying it won’t be as easy to convert the auto market to all EVs as quickly as some of Toyota’s rivals expect. While announcing his resignation, Toyoda reflected on his tenure in blunt terms. “In retrospect, these 13 years have been a period of struggling to survive one day after the next, and that is my honest feeling,” he said.

– CNBC’s Alex Harring, Patti Domm, Lora Kolodny, Arjun Kharpal and Ruxandra Iordache contributed to this report.

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