Wednesday’s Pre-Market: Here’s What You Need To Know Before The Market Opens

US stock futures slipped on Wednesday an uptick in global COVID-19 infection rates and the potential threat of new variants increased investors concerns regarding the pace of the economic recovery.

Dow and S&P futures were approximately 0.2% lower while Nasdaq futures had dropped 0.3% at the time of writing.

Another round of corporate earnings are set to be announced today before the opening bell including Halliburton (HAL), Baker Hughes Company (BKR), and Verizon Communications (VZ) while Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), Whirlpool (WHR), and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) are expected to report after the closing bell.

Alterity Therapeutics (ATHE) was the most actively traded stock and also the biggest gainer, up by 16.8% at the time of writing as the biotechnology company said that a recent study seemed to indicate that its drug, ATH434, improves motor function and protects brain cells in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Digital Ally (DGLY) was the biggest laggard in pre-market trading with the stock dropping 14.4% at the time of writing. There was no fundamental news to explain the fall in price.

In other news, Apple (AAPL) gave its iPad Pros and iMacs an upgrade with an Apple-designed M1 chip and unveiled them at the company’s “Spring Loaded” virtual event on Tuesday. The company also introduced the AirTag and announced the launch of its Apple Podcast Subscriptions services.

Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Greg Joswiak, said, “The revolutionary M1 chip has been a breakthrough for the Mac, and we’re incredibly excited to bring it to iPad Pro.

PayPal (PYPL) has become the first payment company to secure a first-of-its-kind conditional Bitlicense that will allow its customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash on the Venmo app. Venmo’s GM and SVP, Darrell Esch said, “Crypto on Venmo is a new way for the Venmo community to start exploring the world of crypto, within the Venmo environment they trust and rely on as a key component of their everyday financial lives.”

Meanwhile Facebook-supported (FB) digital currency Diem could also launch this year, according to a CNBC report. The report, citing an anonymous source, said that the Diem Association, a non-profit organization based in Switzerland, is planning to launch a small-scale pilot later this year with a single “stablecoin” pegged to the US dollar.

The report also said that if Diem’s pilot does get launched this year, it will focus mainly on transactions between individual users and allow them to buy goods and services.

Meanwhile Abbott (ABT) has started shipping BinaxNOW, an over-the-counter (OTC) self-test kit for COVID-19 priced at $23.99. Abbott’s CEO and President, Robert B. Ford said, “Over the past year, Abbott has developed high-quality rapid testing and invested in U.S. facilities to scale up manufacturing so we could bring affordable testing to Americans on a mass scale,