5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

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

1. Stock futures are flat

Traders on the floor of the NYSE, August 1, 2022.

Source: NYSE

2. Walmart lays off corporate employees

A shopping cart outside a Walmart store in Torrance, California, US, on Sunday, May 15, 2022. Walmart Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on May 17.

Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S., has started to lay off corporate workers. The decision, which the company confirmed Wednesday, came public a little more than one week after the Arkansas-based retail giant cut its full-year profit outlook and warned about inflation’s impact on discretionary spending. “Shoppers are changing. Customers are changing,” Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield told CNBC’s Melissa Repko on Wednesday. “We are doing some restructuring to make sure we’re aligned.” Read CNBC’s full story here.

3. Oil fluctuates after settling nearly 6-month lows

Oil pumpjacks are viewed in the Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles, California. Oil prices dropped early on Monday as investors braced for this week’s meeting of officials from OPEC and other top producers on supply adjustments.

Mario Tama | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Oil bounced between gains and losses Thursday morning, a day after crude futures for both the U.S. and international benchmarks slid nearly 4% and settled at their lowest levels since February. The move came as OPEC and its oil-producing allies said they would only raise their output by 100,000 barrels per day in September. An unexpected increase in U.S. crude and gasoline stockpiles also weighed on energy markets in Wednesday’s session. On Thursday morning, West Texas Intermediate futures traded as low as $90.15 per barrel.

4. Alibaba shares gain after earnings beat

More and more Asian companies have announced share buybacks in recent weeks. Chinese internet giant Alibaba has said it will increase its share buyback program from $15 billion to $25 billion.

Sheldon Cooper, SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

5. Bank of England hikes rates by half-percentage point

General view of The Royal Exchange, Bank of England and City of London on an overcast day.

Vuk Valcic | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Bank of England raised interest rates by 50 basis points Thursday, its biggest single-meeting increase in 27 years as the U.K. central bank tries to tamp down inflationary pressures. Notably, the Bank of England now projects the nation’s economy will enter a recession in the fourth quarter of 2022 that could last more than a year. It expects headline inflation to peak in October, at 13.3%, and stay above its 2% target until 2025. Read the full story from CNBC’s Elliot Smith here.

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