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Markets on pace for best week in six

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were higher this morning. The Dow and S&P 500 were on track for their best week in six weeks and the Nasdaq, with a slight gain, was poised for its best week in four months. (CNBC)

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer hinted at a rate hike soon, in a Thursday afternoon address. This morning, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and New York Fed President William Dudley are set to speak. (CNBC)

Dow component Nike (NKE) has decided to increase its dividend by 14 percent, declare a two-for-one stock split, and announce a $12 billion stock buyback program. (CNBC)

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told CNBC today the U.S. is already at war with ISIS, and America needs a serious leader and a serious plan to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group.

One week after the Paris attacks, gunmen stormed a luxury hotel frequented by foreigners in Mali's capital and took hostages. French and U.N. troops are stationed in the region in North Africa. (Reuters)

The suspected architect of the Paris attacks who was killed Wednesday had traveled through Greece recently, authorities said, raising new concerns about Europe's ability to protect its borders. (WSJ)

The House has passed a bill to suspend a program to admit Syrian refugees into the United States. Dozens of Democrats broke with the White House and voted for the measure. (CNBC)

Reports from China said police have killed 28 members of a terrorist gang in a manhunt that lasted almost two months. Authorities said the group was responsible for a September attack on a remote coal mine. (CNBC)

Jonathan Pollard, an American imprisoned for three decades for selling secrets to Israel, was paroled Friday. The former civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy is subject to travel restrictions. (USA Today)

Volvo and Microsoft (MSFT) said they'll work together to develop driverless vehicles and give potential car buyers an interactive shopping experience using the U.S. technology giant's HoloLens headset. (CNBC)

Volkswagen, set to provide detailed plans to fix vehicles that do not comply with U.S. emissions standards, faced more pressure from officials to buy back older diesel cars. (Reuters)

The FDA said AquAdvantage salmon is the first genetically engineered animal approved for American consumption. Opponents call it "Frankenfish." (LA Times)

BY THE NUMBERS

Oil prices were under pressure this morning, with U.S. crude trading right around $40 a barrel on persistent supply concerns. This afternoon, Baker Hughes releases its weekly rig count report at 1 p.m. ET.

There are no government economic reports today. Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) is on the short list of earnings scheduled to be released this morning, with no major companies reporting quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.

Gap (GPS) late Thursday matched forecasts with earnings. The retailer had pre-released its below-forecast revenue last week. The CEO is expecting a significant improvement during the first quarter of next year.

Ross Stores (ROST) beat on the top and bottom lines, with comparable store sales rising 3 percent. The discount retailer sees current quarter profit slightly below estimates, because of a highly promotional holiday season.

Williams-Sonoma (WSM) beat on earnings and revenue. But the housewares retailer warned about its current quarter due to strong competition from the likes of Restoration Hardware (RH) and Crate & Barrel.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit has hired VMWare co-founder Diane Greene to run its cloud operations. Greene has been on Google's board for three years and will remain a director.

Noble Energy (NBL) has postponed the planned IPO of its midstream unit because of the slump in oil prices. The company will evaluate the timing for the proposed offering.

Horizon Pharma (HZNP) withdrew its $1 billion offer for Depomed (DEPO), after a California court blocked its bid on the basis of improper use of confidential information.

WATERCOOLER

Adele's label, Columbia records, has reached out to Spotify and others to say the singer is not offering her new album "25," out today, on streaming music services. It's only for purchase. (NY Times)

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" is expected to debut this weekend at around $120 million, on par with "Part 1." The franchise has so far brought in $2.3 billion worldwide. (Entertainment Weekly)

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is breaking records four weeks ahead of its box office debut. Advance ticket sales have already generated more than $50 million. (Variety)