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US stock futures reverse as oil plummets

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. oil prices, a major influence on the stock market's recent downturn, was lower for a seventh straight session this morning, trading at nearly seven year lows, under $34 a barrel. Meanwhile, natural gas, down about 5 percent this morning, was at 13-year lows. (Reuters)

Heading into a week that's expected to see the Fed hike interest rates for the first time in nine years, U.S. stock futures turned negative this morning after being up strongly. The Dow tanked nearly 310 points on Friday, capping one of the worst weeks in months. (CNBC)

While falling energy prices have created an environment of uncertainty across financial markets, the turbulence is not expected to impede the Fed from hiking rates from near zero percent, after its two-day meeting that ends on Wednesday. (CNBC)


Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), the maker of Sharpie markers and Parker pens, will buy Jarden (JAH), which makes Sunbeam kitchen appliances and Coleman outdoor gear, to create a consumer products company with revenue of $16 billion. (Reuters)

Dow Chemical (DOW) CEO Andrew Liveris is under fire, with activist investor Dan Loeb calling for his removal following the announcement of Dow's mega-merger with DuPont (DD). (WSJ)

Cheniere Energy (LNG) has ousted its CEO and co-founder Charif Souki. The move comes four months after Carl Icahn took a stake in natural gas producer's and won two seats on the board. (IB Times)

Embattled investment firm Third Avenue Management has ditched CEO David Barse. Late last week, Third Avenue prevented investors from withdrawing funds from its high yield bond fund. (WSJ)

After a series of hoverboard-related fires grabbed headlines, Amazon (AMZN) has started questioning makers about safety, and appears to be removing some boards from its store. (Re/code)

Twitter (TWTR) has issued its first ever warning about a possible hack by state-sponsored actors, as the social media site steps up its scrutiny of possible security breaches. (FT)

Goldman Sachs (GS) chief Lloyd Blankfein plans to return to work full-time early in 2016, following treatment for lymphoma. He was diagnosed in September with a curable form of the disease. (WSJ)

Donald Trump has moved back into the Republican presidential lead, while Ted Cruz has surged into second, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. A recent Iowa poll puts Cruz in first place there.

Democrat Hillary Clinton would defeat Cruz and Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head general election, but would lose to the GOP's Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, bounced from the main stage at the last Republican debate, will return to primetime tomorrow in Las Vegas. Sen. Rand Paul just avoided relegation. (USA Today)

Following his Oval Office address, President Barack Obama will use visits to the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center this week to try to further explain his strategy to stop ISIS abroad and sympathizers at home. (AP)

BY THE NUMBERS

A busy week for the Fed and economic numbers gets off to a slow start, with no major data set for release today.

Tomorrow, the Fed's meeting begins and consumer inflation is out.

Ahead of the Fed's policy statement and central bank chief Janet Yellen's news conference on Wednesday, housing starts, industrial production, and manufacturing PMI are out.

Then on Thursday, it's jobless claims, the Philadelphia Fed survey, and leading economic indicators.


STOCKS TO WATCH

AstraZeneca (AZN) is in talks to buy privately held biotech firm Acerta Pharma. The potential $5 billion-plus deal would help build AstraZeneca's cancer drug portfolio.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) hired a crisis management firm and a Washington, D.C.-based attorney, according to Reuters, as it comes under increasing pressure for its drug pricing policies.

Micron Technology (MU) will buy the 67 percent of Taiwanese chipmaker Inotera Memories that it doesn't already own for $3.2 billion. Micron has already has a 33 percent.

Yahoo's (YHOO) major investors are ramping up pressure on the company to sell either its core Internet business or the entire company, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Halliburton's (HAL) deal to buy rival oilfield services company Baker Hughes (BHI) is in danger, according to the New York Post, unless the government is explicit about the antitrust requirements needed for approval.

Pep Boys (PBY) no longer considers major shareholder Carl Icahn's $863 million buyout proposal "superior," now that tire maker Bridgestone improved its prior bid to match the Icahn offer.

The Copyright Royalty Board, made up of three federal judges, is set to rule by tomorrow on the rates that webcasters like Pandora (P) will pay record companies for the next five years. That's according to the New York Times.


WATERCOOLER

Pop star Taylor Swift's "1989 World Tour Live" concert video will be available exclusively on the Apple Music streaming service, starting this coming Sunday, a week after her 26th birthday. (Reuters)

Disney's new "Star Wars" movie opens nationwide Friday, and the reboot of the franchise is already setting presale records. The Hollywood premiere is tonight. (AP)

Anheuser-Busch's (BUD) boozy Best Damn Root Beer goes nationwide today. The sweet ale aged on vanilla beans weighs in at 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, more than regular Bud. (USA Today)