Microsoft hires Sam Altman, Cruise CEO resigns - what's moving markets


U.S. stock futures edged higher ahead of the first day of a Thanksgiving-shortened trading week, as investors geared up for minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting and earnings from AI-darling Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) on Tuesday. Sam Altman is set to join Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) after a dramatic weekend saw his ouster from the helm of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI. Elsewhere, Cruise boss Kyle Vogt resigns following a series of recent missteps at the robotaxi group.

1. Futures inch up

U.S. stock futures hovered just above the flatline to begin a holiday-shortened trading week, with investors looking ahead to upcoming minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting as they attempt to gauge the central bank's future policy path.

By 05:09 ET (10:09 GMT), the Dow futures contract had added 26 points or 0.1%, S&P 500 futures had gained 6 points or 0.1%, and Nasdaq 100 futures had risen by 32 points or 0.2%.

The main indices on Wall Street ended the prior session marginally in the green, helping the benchmark S&P 500 and 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average post their first three-week winning streaks since the summer. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged to its best week since June.

On Tuesday, traders will have the opportunity to parse through minutes from the Fed's November meeting, where officials chose to keep interest rates steady at a target range of 5.25% to 5.50%. The release will likely be one of the highlights of the economic calendar in a week truncated by Thanksgiving festivities.

Corporate earnings this week will also feature quarterly figures from Nvidia, the California chipmaker that has become a focal point of this year's surge in enthusiasm over generative artificial intelligence. Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) will report as well, becoming the latest big-box retailer to provide an update on the state of the U.S. consumer heading into the crucial holiday shopping season.

2. Altman to run Microsoft's new AI team - Nadella

Microsoft is set to hire Sam Altman to lead a new advanced artificial intelligence research team, in a move that comes just days after the prominent AI-industry figure was ousted as CEO of OpenAI.

In a post on social media platform X announcing the appointment, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote that he is "look[ing] forward to moving quickly" to provide Altman and Greg Brockman -- who was also removed from his role as OpenAI president -- "with the resources needed for their success."

Earlier on Monday, The Information reported that Altman, one of the leading voices in a global debate over the rapid expansion of nascent AI technology, will no longer return as OpenAI's CEO despite executive efforts to rehire him. The report cited an internal address by co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever.

Instead, OpenAI will hire streaming site Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as interim CEO, according to media reports.

Altman was seen meeting with OpenAI’s board over the weekend, after he was unexpectedly sacked on Friday and replaced on an interim basis by Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati. The turmoil, which The Information said followed an internal disagreement over AI safety, threatens to cast a pall over the direction of OpenAI just one week after its megapopular chatbot ChatGPT reached 100 million weekly users.

3. Cruise CEO resigns

The chief executive of General Motors-backed Cruise has stepped down in the wake of a highly-publicized accident that led to the halt of its self-driving vehicle operations.

CEO Kyle Vogt confirmed his departure in a post on X on Sunday, adding that the group "is still just getting started, and I believe it has a great future ahead."

Reuters reported that Vogt, who founded the firm in 2013, told employees in an email that he had "resigned from my position." Earlier in the weekend, Vogt had reportedly apologized to staff, saying "[t]here are no excuses, and there is no sugar coating what has happened."

The leadership shake-up comes after the California Department of Motor Vehicles accused Cruise of not disclosing all video footage of an accident in October in which a pedestrian was dragged by one of its self-drive taxis. Cruise has said it "proactively shared" information with authorities.

The California DMV later ordered Cruise to remove all of its cars from state roads, warning that they present a risk to the public. Cruise also suspended all vehicle operations and announced a recall of 950 of its robotaxis.

4. Foxconn EV start-up sees shares slip in debut

Shares in major Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier Foxconn's electric vehicle unit fell in their debut trading day in Taipei on Monday, weighed down by concerns over the outlook for the highly competitive EV market.

Foxtron Vehicle Technologies ended the day down by 2.7%, paring back some losses following a drop of as much as 9%, giving the company a market capitalization of roughly $2.7 billion. It raised T$7.5B ($1 = 31.7350 Taiwan dollars) in its initial public offering.

Foxtron, a joint venture between iPhone contract manufacturer Foxconn and carmaker Yulon, currently faces a host of challenges, including pricing pressures and supply chain constraints.

Chairman Young Liu, however, stressed that Foxtron still has a clear growth plan. The group has said it has received over 9,000 orders for its Model C vehicle, and expects to carry out deliveries by the end of June next year.

5. Oil rises on output cut hopes

Oil prices rose Monday, extending recent gains following reports that a group of major producers may discuss deeper output cuts when they meet later this month.

By 05:10 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $76.52 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.7% to $81.13 per barrel.

Oil prices have dropped by almost 20% since late September on demand growth fears as well as easing worries of Middle East supply disruption amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

However, crude gained 4% on Friday and continued to rise Monday after Reuters reported, citing sources, that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, a group known as OPEC+, is set to consider whether to make additional oil supply cuts to shore up prices when it meets on Nov. 26.

The group, particularly major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, has already pledged total oil output cuts of 5.16 million barrels per day, or about 5% of daily global demand, in a series of steps that started in late 2022.

Source : Economy News by / Nov 20, 2023 logo


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