5 things to know before the stock market opens Friday, December 15

Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Bulls just wanna have fun

A bull stands on the tracks at Newark Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey, on Dec. 14, 2023.

Courtesy of New Jersey Transit via AP

2. Hitting the brakes

A Cruise vehicle in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday Feb. 2, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Motors’ Cruise said Thursday it will lay off 900 employees, or nearly a quarter of its workforce. The cuts, which primarily hit commercial operations and related corporate functions, follow a round of contractor layoffs at Cruise last month. Just a day earlier, the self-driving car company had dismissed nine “key leaders” amid ongoing safety investigations sparked by an October accident in San Francisco that grounded Cruise’s robotaxi fleet. GM also plans to lay off about 1,300 workers in Michigan, starting early next year. Most of those layoffs were expected because certain vehicle models will be ending production.

3. Unlinked

A pedestrian walks by a sign at a LinkedIn office on July 26, 2023 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

LinkedIn is shifting its plans. The social media site has called off a project, code-named “Blueshift,” that would have moved its data center technology to Microsoft Azure, a setback for its parent company. CNBC’s Jordan Novet reports that the decision is a major reversal for LinkedIn, which originally announced its intended move to Azure in 2019. That came three years after Microsoft acquired the platform for $27 billion. Microsoft — which is chasing Amazon Web Services in the lucrative cloud infrastructure market — has counted on cloud technology and services to fuel much of its growth.

4. New chip in town

Patrick Gelsinger, chief executive officer of Intel Corp., speaks during the Intel AI Everywhere launch event in New York, US, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023. 

Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Intel wants to get in on the AI craze. The company unveiled new computer chips at a New York event on Thursday that included an artificial intelligence chip for generative AI software. Intel didn’t reveal many details about that chip, called Gaudi3, but it will compete with rival chips from Nvidia and AMD. Intel is hoping to lure AI companies away from Nvidia’s dominant position in the market. Nvidia — which has tech behind some of the most prominent AI models in the field, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT — has seen its stock surge nearly 230% year to date while Intel shares are up 68%. 

5. Ukraine-EU talks

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy looks on as he meets with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva at the IMF in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2023. 

Julia Nikhinson | Reuters

Ukraine moved one step closer to European Union membership after leaders in Brussels agreed to open negotiations with the country. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the surprise decision as “a victory” for his war-torn country and Europe. Hungary, which had pledged to block the move during the two-day EU summit, absented from the vote. Despite that win for Ukraine, funding talks collapsed after Hungary’s prime minister vetoed a critical 50 billion euro ($55 billion) financial package for Ukraine. Follow live updates.

CNBC’s Brian Evans, Hayden Field, Michael Wayland, Jordan Novet, Kif Leswing, Matt Clinch and Karen Gilchrist contributed to this report.

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