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US stock futures slump ahead of Fed minutes

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were lower this morning, after the Dow logged its fourth session of gains Wednesday. Investors await the minutes from the Fed's September meeting at 2 p.m. ET. (CNBC)

Chinese stocks surged 3 percent today, in a catch-up rally as the market resumed trading after a week-long holiday, while the rest of the region put up a lackluster performance. (CNBC)

Oil saw support this morning, bolstering a recent upswing on reports and data signalling a rise in demand and fall in supply. U.S. crude rallied near $50 a barrel Wednesday morning, before settling lower. (CNBC)

The year isn't over yet, but oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens said his prediction for $70 a barrel U.S. crude by the end of 2015 isn't looking good, because of OPEC's determination to control the market. (CNBC)

Pickens joins CNBC's "Squawk Box" at 8 a.m. ET to explain how he's recalibrating his expectations for oil prices.


Dell, the world's third-largest maker of personal computers, is said to be in talks to buy cloud computing company EMC (EMC), which had a market value of about $50 billion as of Wednesday's close. (Reuters)

BioMed Realty Trust (BMR), a manager of lab and office space, has agreed to be acquired by Blackstone (BX) in an all-cash deal valued at $8 billion or $23.75 per share, a 10 percent premium to Wednesday's close. (CNBC)

Avoiding a strike, the United Auto Workers early this morning reached another tentative contract deal with Fiat Chrysler (FCAU). Last month, the union's U.S. members rejected the initial agreement. (Reuters)

Volkswagen's U.S. chief executive said he was informed last year about "possible emissions" issues, but was told VW engineers would work with the EPA, according to testimony prepared for today's hearing. (NY Times)

Deutsche Bank (DB) is bracing for a record, pre-tax loss of $6.7 billion in the third quarter due to writedowns. The German lender may also reduce or suspend its dividend this year. (Reuters)

Google (GOOGL) has formally announced a partnership with Twitter (TWTR) and other publishers to ensure news articles load more quickly. But mention of Facebook (FB) was conspicuously absent. (NY Times)

Amazon (AMZN) stepped into the handcrafted-goods business today, opening an online marketplace that squarely takes aim at a niche but growing space dominated by Etsy (ETSY).

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton plans to unveil today a plan to curb what she sees as abuses of Wall Street, including proposals to raise fines and to impose a new tax on high-frequency trading. (Reuters)

Hillary Clinton said she won't support the 12-nation free trade pact that President Barack Obama has championed and liberals in the Democratic party have vehemently opposed. (NY Times)

President Obama has signed bipartisian legislation aimed at preventing premium increases that some smaller businesses were expecting next year under his signature health care law. (AP)

House Republicans gather behind closed doors today to nominate a new speaker. Kevin McCarthy, currently the House majority leader, was the odds-on favorite over two other contenders. (USA Today)

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is drawing criticism for implying that President Obama is not a "real black president" in a tweet last night intended to praise GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson.

BY THE NUMBERS

Ahead of this afternoon's Fed minutes, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Minneapolis Fed President Naryana Kocherlakota speak at 9:30 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET, respectively. San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks at 3 p.m. ET, one hour after the release of the minutes.

The only government economic number this morning comes from the Labor Department, which is out with weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists are looking for claims of 273,000 for the week ending Oct. 3, compared to 277,000 the prior week.

Eighty cents of every dollar saved on gasoline is being spent, double what most economists assume, according to a new report from the JPMorgan Institute that pulls real spending data from Chase cardholders.

Domino's Pizza (DPZ) is on the short list of companies out with earnings this morning, while Alcoa (AA) and restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday (RT) issue quarterly numbers this afternoon.

Costco (COST) last night reported flat comparable store sales for September that beat estimates for a 0.8 percent decline. Excluding gasoline and currency impact, sales increased 8 percent.

General Electric's (GE) outlook has been cut to "negative" from "stable" by Standard & Poor's, following the acquisition of a $2.5 billion stake by Nelson Peltz's Trian Partners.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Lumber Liquidators (LL) has agreed to pay a $13.2 million fine to resolve complaints involving importing illegally harvested timber. The case is unrelated to the "60 Minutes" formaldehyde investigation from earlier this year.

Diageo (DEO) may sell its beer division to brewer SABMiller, according to the New York Post. SABMiller could use such a deal to help it fend off a takeover attempt by rival brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD).

Gannett (GCI) is buying Journal Media Group (JMG) in a $280 million deal, with the USA Today publisher saying the deal would add about $450 million in revenue each year.

Sony (SNE) cut the price of its PlayStation 4 videogame console in the US and Canada by $50, effective tomorrow.

When Google first introduced the world to Alphabet, its new parent company, it was unfurled with the domain ABC.xyz. Now Alphabet has purchased abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com.

WATERCOOLER

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to increase 3.7 percent this year, in line with several other industry forecasts, but below last year's 4.1 percent advance. (CNBC)

Property managers in the U.S. may raise rents by as much as 8 percent next year, as demand rises and vacancies fall, according to a new survey from rental website Rent.com. (CNBC)