5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

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Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Stock futures are flat a day after S&P 500 and Dow post fresh records

People walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on August 10, 2021 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

U.S. stock futures were little changed Thursday morning following another record-setting session for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average. S&P 500 futures rose marginally, while Dow futures climbed just 40 points, or 0.1%. Nasdaq 100 futures were also up slightly. The S&P 500 and Dow closed Wednesday at fresh all-time highs, after investors shrugged off the latest reading for the U.S. consumer price index. The index rose 5.4% on a year-over-year basis, about in line with expectations.

2. U.S. jobless claims, wholesale prices data ahead

An executive chef interviews a job seeker about hospitality employment during a job fair on June 23, 2021 in Torrance, California.
PATRICK T. FALLON | AFP | Getty Images

Weekly U.S. jobless claims data is slated for release Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect the number of first time filers to come in at 375,000 for the week ending Aug. 7. That would be down from a pandemic-era low of 385,000 in the previous week.

The latest reading for the producer price index — which measures wholesale prices — is also set for release Thursday morning. Economists expect the index to have risen 0.6% in July. Investors see the PPI as another gauge on inflation. If the index, along with the claims numbers, comes in stronger than expected, it could add fire to the ongoing debate on when the Federal Reserve might start tapering its massive monetary stimulus programs.

3. Alaska Air considering staff Covid vaccine mandates

A Boeing Co. 737-9 aircraft during a Boeing Co. ecoDemonstrator program tour at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Alaska Airlines is considering making Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for its employees, according to a company memo seen by CNBC. The company said that if it does make vaccines compulsory for its employees, it would do so after the Food and Drug Administration gives full approval of the shots currently available. This policy change would make the carrier the latest airline to require its employees get vaccinated. United Airlines became last week the first major airline to do so.

4. Give Fed Chairman Powell ‘the benefit of the doubt’ on inflation, Cramer says

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies during a U.S. House Oversight and Reform Select Subcommittee hearing on coronavirus crisis, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2021.
Graeme Jennings | Reuters

CNBC’s Jim Cramer asked investors to support Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s approach to monetary policy as inflationary pressures grow. “I say give Jay Powell the benefit of the doubt. He’s been right as rain since the pandemic started. His critics have been dead wrong for ages,” Cramer said Wednesday on “Mad Money.” “Powell’s been adamant that we need to wait and see what happens with the delta variant before he starts raising rates or even tapering.” Cramer also noted the recent uptick in inflation could be temporary.

5. Messi getting paid partially in crypto

Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari President Nasser Al-Khelaifi (L) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Sporting Director Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo (R) pose along side Argentinian football player Lionel Messi (C) as he holds-up his number 30 shirt during a press conference at the French football club Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on August 11, 2021.
Stephane De Sakutin | AFP | Getty Images

Lionel Messi’s new team, PSG, said Thursday the soccer superstar’s wage package includes a cryptocurrency called “PSG Fan Tokens.” The team called the move to partially pay Messi in crypto is one of the “most innovative and avant-garde brands in sport globally.” Earlier this week, Messi signed a two-year deal with PSG. The deal will net Messi a yearly salary of $41 million and a reported signing bonus of $30 million.

— Follow all the market action like a pro on CNBC Pro. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC’s coronavirus coverage.

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