Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:
1. The end of Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson's political crisis has reached its climax. He announced that he would soon step down as U.K. prime minister as he resigned as the head of the Conservative Party. Johnson's tenure has been rocked by scandal after scandal, and dozens of officials in his government have quit to protest his leadership. The pound rose against the dollar and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 stock index jumped as news reports about Johnson's fate swirled. Johnson's departure could also have major geopolitical ramifications. He has been a stalwart supporter of Ukraine in its war against Russia and a major partner of the U.S. and other Western powers as they seek to check Vladimir Putin's influence on the world stage.
2. Momentum for stocks?
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U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open Thursday morning following three straight days of gains from the S&P 500. Investors are eager for signs of stability after the worst first half for stocks in more than five decades, which plunged the S&P 500 into a bear market. It's still not clear whether stocks will break out in a meaningful way anytime soon, however, as price increases continue to take a toll on consumers and the Federal Reserve plans to keep up aggressive rate hikes to beat back inflation.
3. The Fed's thinking
Minutes from the Fed's June meeting, which were released Wednesday, revealed that the central bank is prepared to use even more restrictive measures to tame surging inflation. They indicated that July's meeting would bring another rate hike of up to 75 basis points, and acknowledged that the economy could suffer a slowdown. "Participants concurred that the economic outlook warranted moving to a restrictive stance of policy, and they recognized the possibility that an even more restrictive stance could be appropriate if elevated inflation pressures were to persist," the minutes said. Treasury yields, meanwhile, continued to rise.
4. Samsung sparks chip rally in Asia
Samsung gave chip stocks a much-sought-after reprieve Thursday when it offered "better than feared" revenue guidance for the second quarter. Shares of the South Korean tech giant rose, prompting a rally in Asian chipmakers. It's been a rough year for the semiconductor space, as it contends with surging prices for materials and supply chain problems that have been exacerbated by Russia's war in Ukraine.
5. Pops for a couple Ryan Cohen stocks
Two companies tied to activist investor Ryan Cohen announced notable developments Wednesday evening. Meme stock GameStop, where Cohen is chairman, said its board approved a 4-for-1 stock split, boosting the video game retailer in off-hours trading. Elsewhere, Bed Bath & Beyond disclosed that interim CEO Sue Gove recently bought 50,000 shares of the troubled home goods retailer, sending the stock higher. Gove took over at Bed Bath during a major executive shuffle last week. Earlier this year, Cohen, who had been pushing for a shake-up as well as a sale of the retailer's Buybuy Baby chain, struck a deal with the company to put three people from his firm on the board.
– CNBC's Silvia Amaro, Elliot Smith, Sam Meredith, Jesse Pound, Sarah Min, Jeff Cox and Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.