U.S. Markets closed

Visa, Verizon, and claims — What you need to know in markets on Thursday

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

After a busy Wednesday that saw crude oil nosedive, IBM (IBM) drag down the Dow, and Bill O’Reilly leave Fox News, markets will have another rush of earnings and data to contend with on Thursday.

On the economic data side, Thursday will feature the latest report on initial jobless claims. This number will be closely tracked as last week was the reference week for the April jobs report.

Earnings in focus are expected to include Visa (V), Travelers (TRV), Verizon (VZ), and Phillip Morris (PM).

O’Reilly out

The biggest news on Wednesday wasn’t explicitly related to markets, it was the departure of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News.

O’Reilly’s ouster follows sexual harassment allegations against the TV host, and the ensuing abandonment of his popular show “The O’Reilly Factor” by advertisers.

Yahoo Finance’s Melody Hahm reported earlier in the day on Wednesday that part of the pressure advertisers faced came from a group called Sleeping Giants, which organized a grassroots campaign on Twitter to get ads pulled from O’Reilly’s show.

In a statement after his firing, O’Reilly said “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims.” But that O’Reilly’s tenure at Fox News, like that of former network president Roger Ailes, ended after women who said they’d been sexually harassed in years gone by came forward shows where the world is going.

Namely, that the internet and millennials are in charge now.

As Melody noted in her report, Sleeping Giants is made up of professionals in the marketing industry who want to make sure brands know where they are advertising and what content they are selling against. And so while this activism is still being undertaken anonymously, the members of Sleeping Giants are breaking the fourth wall. They know that marketing, advertising, the practice of selling stuff to people is ultimately a cynical business. But, in their framework, it need not be an unethical one.

For an advertiser, then, this is new territory to navigate. A new era when both the marketers who distribute your advertising and the consumers who react to it are more conscious of what is happening that when advertising was a new experience to humans that hadn’t yet been marketed to for generations.

Earlier this year, Morgan Housel at Collaborative Fund, a venture capital firm, wrote a great primer on how the investing world looks set to change as wealth transfers from Baby Boomers to millennials. And while the age of those activist in Sleeping Giants isn’t known, a millennial ethos is certainly being channeled through the group’s initiatives.

“The generational transfer of wealth and power to millennials shifts the center of gravity toward a world where two things—transparency, and companies taking care of all stakeholders—become an important part of most investment decisions,” Housel wrote.

Over the last week, Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine had reported that Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan — who are 44 and 45, respectively — had been pushing for O’Reilly ouster while their father was less sure of this move.

The younger generation won out.

The advertisers caved to the internet’s pressure to stop selling products against a show hosted by a man accused of sexual harassment.

And that O’Reilly thinks this treatment is unfair is to be expected. O’Reilly said that accusations he sees as unfounded cost him his job reflects the “unfortunate reality” of being in the public eye today.

Another reading is that this is just the new reality — O’Reilly just didn’t know it yet.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

Read more from Myles here: