5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

1. Railway strike averted

With the deadline for a deal fast approaching, President Joe Biden announced a tentative labor agreement early Thursday to avert a national railway strike. A strike would have caused a major disruption to the flow of key goods and commodities around the U.S., idling more than 7,000 trains and costing up to an estimated $2 billion per day. Negotiations between railroads and workers’ unions had been hung up over unpaid sick time. The agreement announced Thursday would improve rail workers pay and working conditions and give them “peace of mind around their health care costs,” Biden said in a statement. The parties had a deadline of 12:01 a.m. Friday to reach a deal and avoid a strike.

2. New data on deck

Trader Ryan Falvey works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Trader Ryan Falvey works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Richard Drew | AP

Stock futures were relatively flat Thursday morning as investors awaited a fresh batch of economic data, including retail sales, import prices and jobless claims. Earlier in the week, U.S. equities had their worst day since 2020 after August’s consumer price index report showed headline inflation rose 0.1% on a monthly basis, despite a drop in gas prices. Then on Wednesday the producer price index report showed a decrease in wholesale prices of 0.1% in August. Jeff deGraaf, founder and chairman of Renaissance Macro Research, said that gave him some comfort. “Inflation is really a dark cloud over equities, but I think it’s really important that people keep in mind that it’s not about good and bad in the markets, it’s about better and worse, and it does appear that inflation is getting better,” he said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime.”

3. Boost for EVs

One of the biggest barriers to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles has been the lack of a national network of charging stations. On Wednesday, President Biden announced the release of the first round of funding for such a network that will finance the construction of stations in 35 states. Biden has been a big proponent of EVs, signing into law incentives to encourage consumers to buy them and companies to build them. “You all are going to be part of a network of 500,000 charging stations — 500,000 — across the country, installed by the IBEW,” Biden said at the Detroit Auto Showreferring to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers labor union.

4. A new muscle car

2024 Ford Mustang
2024 Ford Mustang
Source: Ford

Ford unveiled a seventh-generation Mustang on Wednesday, a version of the iconic muscle car that comes with two gas-powered engines. The Detroit automaker says redesigning the iconic car without any type of electrification is part of its “Mustang family” strategy that includes the all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover. According to a report by Automotive News, a planned hybrid version was scrapped, which could make the latest Mustang the last gas-powered muscle car from the Detroit automakers. The Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro — the Mustang car’s largest rivals — are expected to go electric in the coming years.

5. Patagonia’s billions

Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia.
Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia.
Courtesy of Jeff Johnson and Patagonia

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard says he is “reimaging capitalism,” and that he and his family are giving away their ownership in the apparel maker he started some 50 years ago. All profits from the company will be dedicated to projects and organizations that will protect wild land and biodiversity and fight the climate crisis. The company is worth about $3 billion, according to the New York Times. The privately held company’s stock will now be owned by a climate-focused trust and group of nonprofit organizations, called the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective respectively. The company expects to contribute about $100 million a year, depending on the health of the business.

— CNBC’s Tanaya Macheel, Emma Kinery, Leslie Josephs, Michael Wayland and Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.