10 things before the opening bell

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President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci

Welcome to 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

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1. Omicron could boost inflation. The spread of the coronavirus variant has thrown the US economy into another whirlwind, and economists worry that will place renewed pressure on prices. 

A steep surge in COVID-19 cases hasn't so far had as much impact on spending and jobs creation as it did when the pandemic first started. Some think Omicron could curtail economic growth, and the main concern lies in its potential to prolong already historic high levels of inflation. 

Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell said the rapid-spreading variant makes it harder to forecast a path to recovery, as it poses "downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation." Stock markets have been choppy, as Omicron reignited investors' fears about its potential for harm.

The Fed last week signaled it would tighten monetary policy to combat a sky-high rate of price rises. It will double the pace of cutting back its emergency asset purchases and raise interest rates in the new year. 

What path its policy will take to meet the growing risk of an Omicron shock still lies ahead.

2. Dow futures tumbled as much as 600 points, with the rapid spread of Omicron front of mind. COVID-19 concerns are biting at investors, as is Manchin's scuppering of Biden's Build Back Better plan, though stocks have pulled back somewhat. Check out the latest moves on the market.

3. A top Bank of America strategist said US stocks will tread water next year and European stocks will sink. But there are ways to profit during a turbulent year, even with rising interest rates and slower growth. Here's what investors can buy to avoid disappointing returns in 2022.

4. Earnings on deck: Nike, Micron, Carnival, all reporting.

5. China's wealthiest real-estate magnates lost a combined $46 billion this year. Leading the way was Evergrande's founder, who saw $17 billion erased from his net worth, according to Bloomberg. See Insider's rundown on China's most affluent real estate tycoons. 

6. A millennial NFT investor made nearly $100,000 in six months with a repair shop and a bank in a metaverse. Robert Doyle has been racking in money from virtual assets in Polka City — a metaverse that isn't even fully live yet. Here's why Doyle's digital property has proven so lucrative.

7. JPMorgan's quant guru expects stocks to roar higher into year-end. He anticipates an "overshoot" in selling to lead to a short squeeze — which will then lead to a rally in these three types of stock. 

8. US lawmakers traded $631 million worth of securities in 2021. Democrats favored tech and Republicans piled into energy, and cryptocurrency purchases surged. Critics have pointed to such activity as a conflict of interest for those with legislative influence.

9. This 29-year-old quit his six-figure job to invest in real estate and now is on track to earn over $1.5 million this year. Todd Baldwin bought his first home at 23, and he's aiming to hit a net worth of $20 million by 35. He explained how he used house-hacking to build his portfolio. 

10. A wealth manager at a $33 billion firm is eyeing healthcare stocks for 2022. He explained why they are set to become must-own assets to beef up your portfolio — but he said this has nothing to do with Omicron.

Compiled by Phil Rosen. Feedback? Email prosen@insider.com or tweet @philrosenn.

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  1. Prepare your portfolio and wealth plan for change with research-based insights on the likelihood of proposed tax policy changes and cutting-edge wealth planning strategies for managing complex wealth from The Northern Trust Institute.
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