For Netflix Inc., a ‘Bird Box’ in the queue is worth record viewership.

The streaming service said Friday that “Bird Box,” a new movie starring Sandra Bullock, was viewed by more than 45 million subscribers in its first seven days on the platform, the most for the first week of a movie’s availability. Netflix claimed to have 137.1 million streaming subscribers as of the end of September, which means that almost one-third of them watched the movie in its first week of release.

Netflix

NFLX, +0.20%

 has avoided releasing ratings data for its shows that would reveal how many people watch them, but has from time to time claimed record viewership, typically without providing raw or historical numbers to back up their claims. Friday’s tweet from the company’s film-focused account provided a little more information.

Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film! pic.twitter.com/uorU3cSzHR

— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) December 28, 2018

“Bird Box” was a prestige effort for Netflix, one of three films the company released in theaters before showing them on its streaming service this year. The decision to provide a “window” for theatrical release is a crucial one for the streaming service as it seeks more recognition for its films, such as Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” which is widely considered a potential candidate for an Academy Award.

After finding a larger audience with television series such as “Orange is the New Black” and “Stranger Things,” Netflix has taken a deeper dive into film this year with movies like “Bird Box,” “Roma” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” the three films that received a theatrical release window. Netflix planned to launch 80 original films in 2018 heading into the year, after releasing just eight films the year before.

Netflix shares have gained 33.4% so far in 2018, despite getting rocked for a 31.6% decline so far in the fourth quarter, which has been unkind to technology stocks. The S&P 500 index

SPX, -0.12%

 is down 7% so far this year, and has declined 14.7% in the fourth quarter with just one trading session remaining in 2018.

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A roller coaster end to a downbeat 2018 has stock-market investors desperate for clarity on the market’s path and a return to less volatile price swings. It’s unclear when they will get either.

But bulls hope that progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations, a clearer picture of the Federal Reserve’s policy intentions, corporate earnings, and economic data that’s expected to remain solid could finally give investors the confidence to dive back into equities after a swoon that’s sent major stock indexes reeling.

“Some recent assurances about [Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome] Powell’s job, movement on trade discussions, and while somewhat mixed of late further economic evidence that the U.S. is still growing above trend, will coalesce to form the base for the next sustained rally,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney, in an email.

Read: Is Fed chief Jerome Powell’s job safe? Yes, 100%, says Trump aide Kevin Hassett

Also see: Trump started a fight with the Fed he had zero chance of winning — and now he’s backing down

“It may take a few months for all these variables to flesh out but we think they do in a positive fashion,” said Luschini.

With stocks posting a series of upside and downside intraday reversals in December, traders have frequently been caught out by the market’s sharp swings. Volatility was underscored by action in over the past, holiday-shortened week, which saw major indexes fall more than 2% Monday to post their biggest Christmas Eve drop in stock-market history only to roar back when traders returned Wednesday to log their biggest one-day gains in years and the largest-ever day-after-Christmas gain, which was followed Thursday by a large rebound from sharp intraday losses.

Amid all the back and forth, the S&P 500

SPX, -0.12%

 and Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.33%

 are down more than 9% month-to-date and remain deep in correction territory, while the Nasdaq Composite

COMP, +0.08%

 is in a bear market, having fallen more than 20% from its all-time high, and is off 10.2% for December.

“The rough market has worn on the psyches of investors as well as equity strategists,” wrote Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

See: Why stock-market investors fear historic rebound was just a ‘wicked bear trap’

Still, stock-market bulls contend robust economic data indicates fears of a recession are overdone, meaning it’s only a matter of time before equities finds their bottom. After all, the earlier slide in stocks came in October amid concerns the Fed’s relentless tightening would bring the economic expansion to its last knees. Since then, the central bank has moderated its hawkish language somewhat and the data has mostly held up.

“You could liken this to a forest fire, this has been a conflagration that has been extraordinary, but we’re running out of tinder. Given the intensity of this decline, I‘d we say we’re getting close to a bottom. If the market does move lower, it’s not going to be much more from here,” said James Solloway, chief markets strategist for SEI.

Opinion: The message investors are missing in the stock market’s wild swings: The economy is still solid

Optimists are looking to January as the month when the stock market’s slide will come to a halt. It may all depend on fourth-quarter earnings season, which will get under way toward midmonth, potentially returning the market’s attention back to U.S. corporate profits and, more important, the outlook for coming quarters.

“The guidance is going to be crucial,” said Quincy Krosby, chief markets strategist at Prudential Financial.

For the fourth quarter, estimated earnings for S&P 500 firms are expected to climb by 12.4%, according to FactSet. Although, that would mark a moderation from a stellar third-quarter, it would still represent the fifth straight quarter of double-digit growth in corporate America’s bottom line.

But in the past few months, investors appeared uninterested in earnings amid concerns they would deteriorate as the boost from tax cuts signed into law in late 2017 began to fade. That should, however, shift the focus away from the bottom line to other measures, such as top-line growth, that will be watched for signs as to the strength of underlying demand, Krosby said.

Read: Here’s why the stock market is a ‘hot mess’ — and how January could calm the chaos

January could also prove pivotal because analysts will get more direction from the Fed. Minutes from the December meeting of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee are due on Jan. 3, while the next meeting is due on Jan. 29-30, offering the central bank the opportunity to further fine-tune its message.

Of course, there’s also the opportunity for January events to compound the pain for stock-market bulls. A raft of torrid economic data, weaker-than-expected earnings, or a stubbornly hawkish Fed could all overturn the market’s diminished hopes for a rebound.

At the very least, the passing of the next few weeks will give market participants a better understanding of whether December’s outsize moves were due to holiday-thinned trading or more structural concerns over the equity market’s health.

“What we do expect is more investor conviction whether market turmoil reflects trending facts or the markets playing tricks on themselves, aggravated by year-end conditions,” said Jim Vogel, fixed-income strategist for FTN Financial, in a Thursday note.

Investors face another holiday-shortened week, with markets closed Tuesday for New Year’s Day. The economic calendar might prove thin thanks to a partial government shutdown that’s seen the Commerce Department postpone a number of data releases. The number crunchers at the Labor Department, however, continue to work, which means investors won’t be deprived of the all-important December jobs report on Friday.

Wall Street expects an increase of 180,000 jobs in December, with the unemployment sticking to a 49-year low of 3.7%. Employment rose by a more modest 155,000 in November.

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Stocks ended mostly lower in a choppy Friday session but held on to their first weekly gains of the month in a turbulent holiday environment marked by wild swings between gains and losses.

How are benchmarks performing?

Stocks flipped between moderate gains and losses over the course of the session but saw a late push to the upside fizzle. That left the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.33%

to settle 76.42 points lower at 23,062.40, a loss of 0.3%, while the S&P 500

SPX, -0.12%

finished at 2,485.74, a decline of 3.09 points, or 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite

COMP, +0.08%

rose 5.03 points, or 0.1%, to 6,584.52. For the week, the S&P 500 logged a 2.9% rise, while the Dow rose 2.8% and the Nasdaq rallied 4%. It was the first weekly gain for all three indexes since the end of November.

All three indexes are still nursing sharp month-to-date losses, however, with the S&P down 9.9%, the Dow off 9.7% and the Nasdaq down 10.2%. The Nasdaq entered a bear market this month, defined as a 20% pullback from a recent peak, while the S&P 500 and Dow remain solidly in correction territory with declines of more than 10% from their late September and early October highs, respectively.

On Thursday, the Dow industrials rose 260.37 points, or 1.1%, to end at 23,138.82, after dropping as much as 611 points intraday. The S&P 500 also erased a sharp decline to rise 0.9% to 2,488.83. The Nasdaq Composite overcame a loss of more than 3% to close up 0.4% at 6,579.49.

The Dow’s move from a 2.67% decline at its session low to a positive finish marked its biggest such intraday swing since Oct. 4, 2011, when it recovered from a fall of 2.75% at its low, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Thursday turnabout was the largest such swing for the S&P 500 since May 25, 2010, and the largest for the Nasdaq since Nov. 18, 2008.

Outsize moves have been the pattern of the week. The Dow’s biggest-ever one-day point rise came Wednesday, when it ended with a gain of 1,086.25 points, or 5%, to 22,878.45. The S&P 500 soared 5% to end at 2,467.70, and the Nasdaq rose 5.8% to 6,554.36. That rally came after a brutal selloff in a shortened Christmas Eve session Monday.

Read: Why stock-market investors fear historic rebound was just a ‘wicked bear trap’

Plus: As stocks suffer a December rout, Wall Street strategists bet on 2019 gains

What’s driving the market?

Markets have been batted around this week as a result of light holiday volume and computer-driven trading. Those factors have triggered several sharp daily moves and a rise in volatility, which has taken investors by surprise in what can be a quiet period of trading at the end of the year, analysts said.

Read: Here’s why the stock market is a ‘hot mess’ — and how January could calm the chaos

A still-unresolved government shutdown remains as an overhang for stocks, as do concerns about the economy and the next round of company earnings. Analysts caution that volatile conditions for trading could extend well into the new year.

What are analysts saying?

It’s no surprise to see some “selling fatigue” after several sessions of virtually “indiscriminate selling” contributed to the stock market’s steep December losses, said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, in a phone interview. That said, it takes time for markets to establish a bottom, a process that usually entails retests of the lows and sideways movement before a sustainable move higher, he said.

Investors should see some clarity in the new year, either positive or negative, as the fourth-quarter earnings season gets under way in mid-January and market participants look ahead to a late-January Federal Reserve meeting that should offer further clarity on the central bank’s policy intentions, he said.

“Although U.S. stock markets bounced back to life yesterday to end positive and Asian shares traded mostly higher this morning, it is certainly too early for any celebrations,” said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM, in a note. “With investor appetite for riskier assets seen diminishing amid the unfavorable market conditions, global equity markets remain vulnerable to downside shocks.”

What stocks are in focus?

Shares of Tesla Inc.

TSLA, +5.61%

rose 5.6% after the company added Oracle Corp.

ORCL, -0.33%

co-founder Larry Ellison and Walgreens Boots Alliance

WBA, -0.45%

executive Kathleen Wilson-Thompson to its board.

Read: Tesla’s addition of Larry Ellison to board is a ‘home run appointment,’ analyst says

What’s on the economic calendar

The partial government shutdown means the release of November data on advance trade in goods that had been scheduled for Friday morning was postponed.

See: Government shutdown: Which economic reports are suspended?

Meanwhile, the MNI Chicago business barometer, a survey-based gauge that’s often a signpost for the broader U.S. economy, slipped to a still robust 65.4 points in December from an 11-month-high reading of 66.4 a month ago.

The National Association of Realtors said pending home sales fell 0.7% in November to a reading of 101.4, a four-year low and another sign of widespread weakness in the real-estate market.

How are other markets trading?

Oil prices rallied Friday, with the U.S. benchmark

CLG9, +1.14%

finishing with a gain of 1.6%, as the commodity rebounded from a sharp selloff Thursday. Oil was positive after data from the Energy Information Administration showed U.S. crude supplies fell by 46,000 barrels in the week ended Dec. 21.

The ICE Dollar Index

DXY, -0.19%

was off 0.1%, led by a fall in the dollar against the Japanese yen

USDJPY, -0.64%

, which is viewed as a haven asset in times of economic and financial-market uncertainty.

Asia markets failed to pick up the baton from Wall Street, with the Nikkei 225 index

NIK, -0.31%

slipping modestly and the Shanghai Composite Index

SHCOMP, +0.44%

rising just 0.4%. European stock markets moved higher.

Read on: This chart shows just how insane this Christmas week was on Wall Street

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Aphria Inc. has been accused by a short seller of being part of a vast network of reverse mergers and marijuana-focused acquisitions meant to enrich insiders at the expense of shareholders.

Aphria has not adequately addressed those claims. But now, a related company that just completed a reverse merger last month is attempting to acquire Aphria in a deal that could protect those same investors while not helping other shareholders.

On Thursday evening, Green Growth Brands Ltd.

GGBXF, +3.14%

publicly announced an all-stock bid for Aphria

APHA, +12.39%

APHA, +12.55%

that it said would value the Canadian pot producer at more than $2 billion. Getting to that $2 billion figure requires some fancy math: Green Growth values its own shares at C$7 apiece, even though they only topped C$5 a share on the Canadian Securities Exchange for the first time Friday morning.

Don’t miss: Hostile bid for pot producer Aphria comes from billionaire Ohio family’s new U.S. company

Executives from the two companies had a “friendly” meeting Thursday, at which Green Growth laid out its proposal and attempted to secure an exclusive deal, Chief Executive Peter Horvath told MarketWatch in an interview Thursday, though he framed the bid as hostile. “I guess it’s technically a hostile takeover,” Horvath said.

Green Growth and Aphria have a pretty long, and friendly, history for any genuine hostility to have sprung up now. The major backer of Green Growth, the billionaire Schottenstein family, partnered with Aphria on a bid to run a medical-marijuana dispensary in the Schottensteins’ home state of Ohio in 2017. The two companies also reportedly share some players, such as Aphria board member and former Green Growth board member Shawn Dym, as short seller Hindenburg Research pointed out in a post Friday morning.

Earlier research on Aphria by Hindenburg and Quintessential Capital Management caused a major drop in the company’s share price, but management has barely addressed any of the specific accusations the trader makes. Aphria is reportedly looking to fire its longtime law firm Stikeman Elliot, which was responsible for advising Aphria on several questionable asset purchases highlighted by the short seller

Aphria also may have given a clue about what was found in an internal investigation by removing Chief Executive Vic Neufeld — a major target of the short seller’s theory — from the chairman role in a little-noticed announcement that hit directly after Green Growth publicly announced its bid, timing that could lead one to believe that the two actions were coordinated to lessen the impact of the second. Neufeld sits on the advisory board of Green Acre Capital, which took more than C$30 million from Aphria in the fiscal first quarter and is an investor in Green Growth, through one of its funds.

A guide to pot stocks: What you need to know to invest in cannabis companies

Aphria addressed this relationship directly in a statement Friday morning that said the bid “significantly undervalues the company” and that the proposed transaction carried considerable risks for shareholders. Aphria acknowledged the Green Growth investment made by Green Acre, and said the independent committee evaluating the takeover bid has no ties to either Green Growth or Green Acre.

While Green Growth’s bid could shore up Aphria’s valuation, it is still worrisome for any major investors who still hold stakes in Aphria. Green Growth went public through a reverse merger on the CSE less than two months ago — it is even listed on that exchange by the equity’s former name, Xanthic BioPharma Inc. — and an acquisition would, in the near term, force the combined entity to trade on that second-tier Canadian exchange and over-the-counter markets instead of the current homes for Aphria shares, the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. Green Growth posted modest revenue of roughly $1 million on losses of about half that amount in the most recently reported quarter, and had zero revenue in the same quarter the year before.

Marijuana stocks to watch: Aphria is positioning itself as a low-cost pot producer

A switch to the CSE would mean many large institutional investors would not be able to own Aphria stock. As MarketWatch has reported, the CSE is not liquid enough to handle large trades, yet has flourished among U.S.-based pot businesses in the past couple of years, as no major exchanges would accept listings by companies that openly break federal law. And, it’s an open question as to how U.S. investors will be able to take shares in Green Growth, because it will be violating federal law.

All of these complications point to a deal that is unlikely to, and perhaps should not, be completed. If Aphria is legit, it is worth more than Green Growth is offering; if there are major ethical problems within the company, a related-party transaction would only temporarily paper over them. But in the long run, they would remain. Either way, this bid does not seem to be a reason for Aphria’s stock to head higher.

Aphria shares did gain Friday. U.S.-listed shares rose 12.4% on the day, while the TSX-listed stock increased 12.6%. The entire sector seemed to benefit as the week’s trading closed: U.S.-listed shares of Tilray Inc.

TLRY, +5.73%

bounced 5.7% higher, Aurora Cannabis Inc.

ACB, +2.55%

ACB, +4.71%

added 2.6%, Canopy Growth Corp. increased in value by 2.1%

CGC, +2.09%

WEED, +2.19%

and Cronos Group Inc.

CRON, +0.97%

CRON, +1.36%

gained 1%. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF

MJ, +4.18%

 , which tracks marijuana-related stocks, advanced 4.2% on the day.

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As 2018 draws to a close and the reality of recreational marijuana in Canada sinks in, the next round of initial public offerings in the cannabis sector will likely come from U.S.-based companies looking to raise cash.

For Canadian companies, the IPO party is most likely just about over, according to ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF

MJ, +4.18%

 partner Jason Wilson, who doesn’t expect a swath of freshly capitalized Canadian companies to list in 2019. At the close of this year, there are already dozens of publicly traded firms in the chilly country battling one another for the recreational market that has kicked off with more of a whimper than a bang.

In Canada, recreational marijuana sales have been hampered by supply shortages that in the country’s most populous province, Ontario, meant the only method of legal weed purchase was an online store that launched in the middle of a postal strike. Other provinces had difficulties too — Alberta, for example, has suspended its licensing of bricks-and-mortar retail locations because it had only received 20% of the marijuana it had ordered since Oct. 17.

As a result, Wilson said that he expects IPO activity to slow to some degree because firms that have managed to go public — like Tilray Inc.

TLRY, +5.73%

 , which became the first cannabis IPO on the Nasdaq in 2018, and rivals such as Aurora Cannabis Inc.

ACB, +2.55%

ACB, +4.71%

 , Canopy Growth Corp.

CGC, +2.09%

WEED, +2.19%

 and Cronos Group Inc.

CRON, +0.97%

CRON, +1.36%

 — now have to deliver on the promises they made to investors.

A guide to pot stocks: What you need to know to invest in cannabis companies

“The easy money — if there is such a thing as easy money — is kind of gone for early-stage companies,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen a big runup in the early movers and the stock prices have run but have now corrected. Investors want to see actual revenues and net income and implementation of business plans. A lot of these companies have up until this point just been fully funded business plans.”

Where investors can expect to see IPO action is south of the 49th parallel, where cannabis remains illegal under federal law, a fact that has not deterred some operators from listing on the one place that will accept them: the Canadian Securities Exchange. There are also a number of pot-adjacent technology and product companies that don’t actually handle marijuana themselves and may be able to list on larger exchanges. It’s also possible that, following the recent passage of the farm bill, that several hemp-focused companies will list in the U.S.

Here are some of the cannabis companies that could go public in 2019.

Pax Labs

The cannabis-focused vaporizer company raised $20 million from investors in October, valuing the startup at $5 billion. The San Francisco-based company was founded by James Monsees and Adam Bowen, who also launched the nicotine vaporization maker Juul, which has separately been valued at roughly $15 billion by investors, which now include Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc

MO, +0.39%

 .

At the moment, Pax produces vaporizers designed to be used with cannabis flower, and a pen and pod system for use with cannabis oil. Pax hired Bharat Vasan, a seasoned executive who has spent 15 years in consumer hardware, as chief executive in 2018. Because Pax does not produce or touch marijuana, it’s possible it could list on a major exchange like the New York Stock Exchange.

In a statement Friday, Vasan said, “To support the rapid growth at Pax, we are planning a large round of funding in 2019 ahead of a potential public offering.”

KushCo

With a recreational pot market larger than Canada’s, California is home to hundreds of cannabis businesses of various sizes and stages of development, but none are allowed to list on large exchanges because they are illegal by federal law. One business that will seek to break onto a big U.S. exchange is KushCo Holdings Inc.

KSHB, +5.12%

 , a Garden Grove, Calif.-based operator that produces packaging for various forms of marijuana products, among other business units that do not involve actually touching the plant.

The company is currently traded over the counter in the U.S. and logged 2018 full-year losses of $10.2 million on revenue of $52.1 million, up from a small profit of $69,464 and sales of $18.8 million the year before. CEO Nick Kovacevich said in a telephone interview that the company dipped into losses on purpose, because after a recent fundraising round it planned to grow its top line before it swings back to profitability in 2020.

Read also: How one exchange became the go-to destination for cannabis stocks

Kovacevich said the company is trying to list on the Nasdaq or NYSE in the first half of 2019 and has been focused on an IPO for the “past several months.” Kovacevich said KushCo will be one of the first stocks that will allow institutional investors to bet on the cannabis industry, and that the company will be a much safer, better alternative to investing in companies listed on the CSE or elsewhere.

Harborside

Doing business as FLRish IP LLC but commonly known as Harborside, after the chain of retail pot shops it operates in the San Francisco Bay Area, this company has made no secret about its plans to list on the CSE in 2019. According to CEO Andrew Berman, Harborside aims to raise roughly $50 million through a private placement and plans to list within the first quarter of 2019. While the company used to operate as a nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary, Berman has been moving the enterprise to a for-profit business, and a part of that has been its capital markets strategy — though he said neither the company’s nonprofit mission nor its services will change.

Like other companies listing on the CSE, Berman said that Harborside will complete a reverse takeover of an already existing and listed entity. The company plans to use the additional capital to expand its current retail operations and cultivation facilities near Salinas, Calif., among other things. Berman says Harborside aims to file a listing statement before the end of 2018.

Marijuana data companies

Since it’s illegal under federal law, data on the cannabis industry has been hard to come by. But as more states have legalized both recreational and medical pot, a slice of the sector has emerged to cater to various pot producers hungry for market intelligence. At the moment, there are three market leaders: BDS Analytics Inc., Frontier Financial Group Inc. (New Frontier Data), and Headset Inc. Any one of them could IPO in 2019.

Like Pax and KushCo, they do not directly handle marijuana and may be able to list on a major exchange like the Nasdaq or NYSE. Headset and Frontier did not respond to a request for comment. BDS said it has no plans to go public “at this time.”

Israeli medical marijuana producers

Israeli parliament has approved a law that will allow companies within the country to export medical pot late Tuesday. Though the bill still needs approval from cabinet members and the country’s prime minister, one of the eight companies cultivating medical pot in the tiny country, InterCure Ltd., has said it plans to list on the Nasdaq in mid-2019. The company cultivates weed at one farm in Israel and is building grow facilities in 10 other countries in Europe, where it aims to sell medical pot. The company told Reuters it is now producing about five metric tons of cannabis a year, and plans to produce more than 100 metric tons in the next 18 months. InterCure stock has gained 1,223% this year.

This article has been updated with additional comment from Pax Labs.

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Netflix said Friday its latest original film, “Bird Box,” has been viewed by more than 45 million accounts — or almost a third of its global subscriber base — in just the first week.

It’s the strongest opening week for a Netflix original film to date, the company said in a tweet, and a good sign for Netflix’s high-priced efforts in original shows and movies. The company has been reported to have spent as much as $13 billion a year on programming.

@NetflixFilm: Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film!

The sci-fi thriller stars Sandra Bullock, whose character has survived a mysterious apocalypse with her two children. They journey to seek a new beginning, blindfolded, to avoid the same fate as most of the population.

The number of individual viewers who’ve watched “Bird Box” could easily be higher than 45 million, with multiple profiles per account and the high prevalence of account sharing.

Netflix has traditionally been tight-lipped about viewership stats, but the numbers for “Bird Box” in its first week put the film in the same neighborhood as the lifetime theater ticket sales of some “Harry Potter” movies, “The Fugitive” and “Frozen,” according to data from IMDb.

Of course, there’s a lower barrier to viewership when the film is available as part of a subscription and on a viewer’s laptop screen. But even in terms of Netflix’s base, “Bird Box” has carved out an impressive audience.

For the third quarter of 2018, the company reported 58 million domestic subscribers and 79 million other subscribers internationally.

WATCH:
Netflix shares are up 2,400 percent and the rest of the media industry is struggling — here’s why

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Department store chain Sears won a reprieve from liquidating Friday after its chairman, Eddie Lampert, submitted a bid in an effort to buy the retailer and keep it alive, people familiar with the situation tell CNBC.

Lampert’s hedge fund ESL Investments put forward his tentative proposal for Sears earlier this month with his formal submission due today.

The people requested anonymity because the information is confidential.

A bid could help divert liquidation, but may not necessarily. Sears’ advisors have until Jan. 4 to decide whether ESL is a “qualified bidder.” Only then could ESL take part in an auction against liquidation bids on Jan. 14. They will weigh the value of Lampert’s bid against offers to liquidate the company.

The terms or structure of Lampert’s bid could not immediately be determined. If it is similar to the $4.6 billion proposal Lampert outlined earlier this month, it is likely to face pushback from the company’s unsecured creditors. As part of the initial bid, which regulators required Lampert to make public, financing would in part stem from $1.8 billion in debt that Lampert would forgive through a so-called “credit bid.”

Unsecured creditors said earlier this month they will object to a credit bid. Those creditors believe there may be claims against Sears for transactions under Lampert’s leadership. Those deals include Sears’ spinoff of Lands’ End and transactions with Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust Lampert created through select Sears’ properties.

ESL did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for comment. Sears declined to comment.

The company filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 15. At that time it said it would close 142 unprofitable stores, then in November it announced the closure of 40 additional stores. On Friday, it disclosed plans to close 80 more stores, bringing the total closures to more than 260, or more than a third of its 700 or so stores.The 125-year-old company has more than 68,000 employees.

Once the nation’s biggest retailer, it was also its first “everything store,” stocking everything from jewelry to clothing, from hardware to prefabricated homes. But the department store industry has struggled over the past half-decade, as the mall has become less convenient and apparel more casual. Rival J.C. Penney has also felt the pressure; on Wednesday its shares dipped below $1 for the first time.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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Tesla has outmaneuvered the Securities and Exchange Commission by appointing Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson to its board, management expert Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told CNBC on Friday.

The electric-car company made the appointments on Friday to comply with an SEC settlement.

“The SEC has been had on this one,” said Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management and a CNBC contributor.

Tesla and CEO Elon Musk agreed in September to appoint a new chairman and two independent board members after the SEC accused Musk of misleading investors with a tweet about taking the company private at $420 a share.

Sonnenfeld called Ellison, the co-founder and executive chairman of Oracle, a “clone” of Musk.

“He’s a genius, knows technology, self-made guy and very articulate,” he said on “Closing Bell.”

“But he’s a pretty angry guy. Hair-trigger sensitivity to criticisms, loves to lash out at analysts,” he added.

In October, Ellison said he is “very close friends to Elon Musk” and has defended the CEO against ongoing criticism of his behavior. In addition to the take-private tweet, Musk appeared to smoke pot on a podcast in September.

Ellison is also a very big investor in Tesla. He owns 3 million shares of its stock, according to a company spokesperson.

Sonnenfeld said Musk “has brilliantly outmaneuvered” the SEC “by picking somebody who can really very effectively run cover for him, protect him. This is not a guy who is going to push for vetting the tweets.”

When asked for comment on Sonnenfeld’s remarks, a Tesla spokesperson referred to other analyst comments, like that of Wedbush Securities’ Dan Ives. On Friday, Ives called the appointments a “major step forward.”

Ellison “could help channel Musk’s energy and passion into positives going forward thus moving further away from the ‘going private tweetstorm’ from a few months ago, which continues to be a lingering overhang on the name,” Ives wrote in a note to clients.

Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla shares closed 5.6 percent higher on Friday.

— CNBC’s Sara Salinas and Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

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U.S. stock futures swung higher in choppy action Friday, after a wild four sessions week of trading that has seen big swings for the major indexes, with the S&P 500 set to end the holiday shortened week with a 3% gain.

How did benchmarks perform?

Erasing earlier losses, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures

YMH9, +0.75%

jumped 121 points, or 0.5%, to 23,274, while S&P 500 futures

ESH9, +0.78%

 climbed 13.35, or 0.6%, to 2,508.75. Nasdaq-100

NQH9, +0.60%

 futures gained 27.25 points, or 0.4%, to 6,351.

On Thursday, the Dow industrials

DJIA, +1.14%

 rose 260.37 points, or 1.1%, to end at 23,138.82, after dropping as much as 611 points in a session low. The S&P 500

SPX, +0.86%

 also erased a sharp decline to rise 0.9% to 2,488.83. The Nasdaq Composite

COMP, +0.38%

erased a loss of more than 3% to close up 0.4% to 6,579.49.

The Dow’s move from a 2.67% decline at its session low to a positive finish marked its biggest such intraday swing since Oct. 4, 2011, when it recovered from a fall of 2.75% at its low, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Thursday turnabout was the largest such swing for the S&P 500 since May 25, 2010, and the largest for the Nasdaq since Nov. 18, 2008.

The Dow’s biggest ever one-day point rise came Wednesday , when it ended with a gain of 1,086.25 points, or 5%, to 22,878.45. The S&P 500 soared 5% to end at 2,467.70 and the Nasdaq rose 5.8% to 6,554.36. That rally came after a brutal selloff in a shortened Christmas Eve session Monday.

Read: Why stock-market investors fear historic rebound was just a ‘wicked bear trap’

Plus: As stocks suffer a December rout, Wall Street strategists bet on 2019 gains

For the week and with one trading session left to go, the Dow and S&P 500 are set to gain 3%, while the Nasdaq is poised for a near 4% rise.

What’s driving the market?

Markets have been batted around this week as a result of light holiday trading volume and computer-driven trading, which have triggered several sharp daily moves and a rise in volatility, which has taken investors by surprise in what can be a quiet period of trading at the end of the year.

Stocks remain down sharply for the month and lower for the year, with the Nasdaq Composite in a bear market and the S&P 500 and Dow solidly in correction territory.

A still-unresolved government shutdown remains as an overhang for stocks, along with concerns about the economy and the next round of company earnings, and analysts have cautioned that volatile conditions for trading could extend well into the new year.

How are other markets trading?

Oil prices were climbing Friday, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures

CLG9, +2.24%

 up $1, or 2.4%, to $45.66 a barrel, as the commodity rebounded from a sharp selloff Thursday. Investors will be watching for U.S. supply data due later.

Elsewhere, investors appeared more cautious, with the ICE Dollar Index

DXY, -0.39%

 dropping 0.1% to 96.353, led by a fall in the dollar against the Japanese yen

USDJPY, -0.61%

 , which is viewed as a haven asset in times of economic and financial market uncertainty.

Asia markets failed to pick up the baton from Wall Street, with the Nikkei 225 index

NIK, -0.31%

 slipping modestly and the Shanghai Composite Index

SHCOMP, +0.44%

 rising just 0.4%. European stock markets were looking at a higher open.

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The New York Yankees are in talks with Amazon.com Inc.

AMZN, -0.63%

  and broadcaster Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.

SBGI, -0.49%

 about partnering to bid for the team’s regional sports network YES, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Yankee Entertainment and Sports Network LLC, which carries Yankee baseball and Brooklyn Nets basketball, is among the 21st Century Fox Inc.

FOX, +0.46%

  assets that Walt Disney Co.

DIS, +0.65%

  is required to sell for the government to approve its purchase of the majority of the company.

The Yankees own 20% of YES and have first dibs on acquiring the remaining 80%. The team has been talking to a variety of potential partners to purchase the network, for which Disney is seeking a valuation of $5 billion to $6 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

The talks are still in early stages and a partnership with either Amazon or Sinclair isn’t guaranteed, executives close to matter said.

The Yankees have also approached cable operator Altice USA

ATUS, -1.28%

  which has systems in the New York City region, about joining the team’s effort to acquire 80% of YES, people with knowledge of the matter said. Altice USA is a unit of Altice NV.

As the primary TV home for one of the most popular franchises in the number-one media market, YES is seen as one of the most valuable sports properties in the country.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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