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Stocks track oil sharply lower ahead of key data

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were sharply lower this morning, after Wall Street snapped a three-session losing streak Thursday. Ahead of today's trading, the Dow was off 1.5 percent for the week, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were almost 2 percent lower for the week. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were lower and remained near 2009 lows this morning, after falling nearly 1.1 percent and dipping below $37 a barrel Thursday. Crude futures have lost more than 13 percent since the beginning of this month. (Reuters)

The growth in the world's demand for oil is set to slow next year amid an "unrelenting" oversupply of crude, according to the International Energy Agency. This afternoon, oil services giant Baker Hughes releases its weekly rig count report. (CNBC)

Natural gas was lower this morning. Prices half-heartedly rallied early Thursday on an unexpected decline in stockpiles, before pulling back as the warm winter persisted. Natural gas was off about 8 percent so far this week. (CNBC)

U.S. chemical giants Dow Chemical (DOW) and DuPont (DD) have agreed to merge in an all-stock deal valuing the companies at $130 billion, with plans to eventually split into three. (Reuters)

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has cut its corporate credit rating on Yum Brands (YUM) to junk status, as the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell announced plans to return $6.2 billion to shareholders. (FT)

Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed joins CNBC's "Squawk Box" at 8 a.m. ET this morning to talk about the state of the company.

Seattle health officials have closed a South Lake Union Chipotle (CMG) restaurant for repeated food-safety violations amid nationwide problems for the fast-casual Mexican food chain. (Seattle Times)

Following a string of mass shootings in the U.S., including the San Bernardino terror attack, President Barack Obama's advisers are finalizing a proposal to expand background checks on gun sales, without congressional approval. (NBC News)

The "financial minister" of ISIS, a former al-Qaeda member, was killed in an airstrike last month, according to the U.S. military. Two other senior officials in the terror group were also killed. (FT)

Even as the two sides are trying to kill each other, ISIS is trading oil to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, making more than $500 million in the process. (Reuters)

Nearly six-in-10 Americans oppose GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposal to bar Muslims from entering the U.S., but Republicans are evenly divided, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Trump's proposal is costing him in business. In Dubai, a $6 billion golf community is ditching the Trump name, while efforts are being made in Toronto and Stamford, Connecticut to rename Trump buildings. (CNBC)

Hoverboards may be gaining popularity, but they're falling out of favor with an increasing number of big airlines. American, Delta, and United said they won't let the devices on their planes. (USA Today)

Meanwhile, federal safety regulators are stepping up their investigation of hoverboards, due to a recent spate of reports of fires and explosions, as well as injuries from falls. (NBC News)

The chief marketing officer and an engineer from Inventist demonstrates the Hovertrax hoverboard on "Squawk Box" at 8:40 a.m. ET this morning.

The Senate approved a stop-gap measure to keep the federal government running until next Wednesday, while negotiations continue on a longer-term funding bill. The House votes on the measure today. (Reuters)

High-stakes talks to address climate change outside Paris will not end today as planned but will continue at least one more day as diplomats try to overcome disagreements on sharing the costs. (AP)

China's yuan dropped to its lowest level against the dollar in over four years today, as the central bank there steadily guides the currency lower amid an economic slowdown and hefty capital outflows. (CNBC)

One of China's top entrepreneurs, the chairman of the conglomerate that owns Club Med and other businesses in Europe and the U.S, is missing. A court has cited him in an anti-corruption campaign. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

Retail sales at 8:30 a.m. ET and consumer sentiment at 10 a.m. ET provide the last looks at the mood of consumers, before Fed officials meet next week to consider an interest rate hike. The producer price index is also out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Business inventories are released at 10 a.m. ET.

Adobe Systems (ADBE) reported an almost 22 percent rise in quarterly revenue, which matched estimates. The Photoshop owner beat on earnings, but issued weak profit guidance.

Restoration Hardware (BH) beat on earnings but missed on revenue. The home-furnishings company raised fiscal 2015 revenue guidance to a range of $2.17 billion to $2.18 billion.

JetBlue (JBLU) released disappointing guidance in its November data report. The airline expects its fourth-quarter passenger revenue per available seat mile, a key metric, to decline by 2 to 3 percent.

United Technologies (UTX) raised the lower end of its full-year adjusted earnings forecast and announced a $1.5 billion restructuring plan aimed at reducing costs.


STOCKS TO WATCH

United Parcel Service (UPS) is straining to handle a surge in online sales that's resulted in more holiday volume than it had expected, according to the Wall Street Journal, causing a wave of disruptions that could spell trouble for the holiday season.

Ford (F) plans to invest an additional $4.5 billion by 2020 in hybrid and electric vehicle programs. Meanwhile, the automaker wants to develop ride-hailing services that could compete with Uber or Lyft.

Wal-Mart's (WMT) marketing chief is retiring in January, and the retail giant is going outside for help, tapping a former marketing guru from Target (TGT) as consultant to work with the eventual successor.

Twitter (TWTR) is testing a new feature to show ads to people who read tweets without logging in, as the social network tries to make good on its long-time ambition to monetize non-active users.

Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer gave birth to identical twin daughters early Thursday morning. The announcement comes amid a tumultuous month for Mayer and the company.

WATERCOOLER

A 1956 Ferrari sold last night for $28 million at an auction, which also featured top bidding for Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche and a 1963 Pontiac owned by Roy Rogers decorated with silver dollars and guns. (AP)

Hitting newsstands today, Pamela Anderson will be on the cover of the last nude issue of Playboy magazine, ending a tradition of centerfolds baring all for the publication. (USA Today)