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Markets seek to continue pre-Christmas win streak

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Futures are pointing to a higher open on Wall Street this morning, as Wall Street aims for a third straight session of gains following a two-day sell-off late last week. The Dow is down about 400 points, or 2.2 percent for 2015 with 5-1/2 trading days left in the year, while the S&P 500 is trying to make up for a 1-percent 2015 deficit.

European stocks moved higher following Wall Street's two-day rally and as oil prices stabilized. The French economy grew 0.3 percent, in line with estimates, while UK economic growth came in at 0.4 percent, below an earlier reading of 0.5 percent. (CNBC)

Internationally traded Brent crude and U.S. West Texas Intermediate were trading roughly at parity after WTI settled above Brent for the first time since 2010 on Tuesday. The prospect of tighter supply following the lifting of a 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude exports is providing support to WTI.


Oil prices will take decades to recover and will still not reach the peak seen in recent years, according to the latest World Oil Outlook (WOO) from OPEC. The producer group predicted a barrel of oil would cost (in real terms) around $70 by 2020 and $95 by 2040. (CNBC)

Iraqi forces will dislodge Islamic State militants from the western city of Ramadi within days, an Iraqi general told state television Wednesday. The military moved Tuesday to take the last district held by IS, which the group captured in May. (Reuters)

Russian air strikes in Syria may amount to war crimes, according to Amnesty International. The human rights organization says remote research indicates the bombing campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad has killed hundreds of civilians in homes, medical facilities, and markets. (FT)

A Russian court issued an international arrest warrant for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a pro-democracy advocate and former oil tycoon. Authorities claim Khodorkovsky was behind the contract killing of a Siberian mayor in 1998. (Reuters)

Turing Pharmaceuticals is seeking a new CEO to replace Martin Shkreli, who resigned on Friday, a day after his arrest on charges of securities fraud. The company will also expand its board to include new, independent members and will cut jobs in a restructuring, it said Tuesday. (Reuters)

German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom on Wednesday lost a bid to block his extradition from New Zealand to the United States to face charges including copyright infringement and money laundering related to his file-sharing website, Megaupload. (CNBC)

Apple (AAPL) is now offering so-called "proxy access," according to an SEC filing. That would make it easier for long-time shareholders to nominate a director for its board. (FT)

Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit is building a new mobile-messaging app using artificial intelligence technology, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google hopes to catch up with rivals such as Facebook (FB) in the fast growing market. (WSJ)

Amazon.com (AMZN) is seeking to cut back on its ties with United Parcel Service (UPS), according to a Wall Street Journal article. Amazon is looking for alternatives to deal with increasing package volumes and higher costs. (WSJ)

BY THE NUMBERS

It's a busy day for economic numbers, but not quite as busy as originally thought. The government inadvertently released November consumer spending data 12 hours early, with those numbers showing a 0.3 percent increase after an unchanged performance in October. Still to come at 8:30 a.m. ET: November personal income, expected to rise 0.2 percent after a 0.4 percent jump in October.

The government will also issue durable goods orders for November at 8:30 a.m. ET, with consensus forecasts calling for a 0.6 percent decline. That would partially reverse October's 2.9 percent gain.

At 10 a.m. ET, November new home sales are expected to register a 1.8 percent increase, after a 10.7 percent slide in October. At the same time, the University of Michigan's final December consumer sentiment index is out, seen rising to 92.0 from the prior 91.8.

Other reports out today include mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association at 7 a.m. ET and the Energy Department's crude oil inventories report at 10:30 a.m. ET.

There are no earnings reports of note scheduled this morning, while the nation's largest egg producer, Cal-Maine Foods (CALM) is one of the few companies set to release numbers after today's closing bell.


STOCKS TO WATCH

Nike (NKE) reported quarterly profit 4 cents above estimates at 90 cents per share, although revenue was slightly below forecasts. The stock is getting a particular boost from a 20 percent increase in future orders, a number which excludes the impact of currency fluctuations.

Micron Technology (MU) earned an adjusted 24 cents per share for its latest quarter, 1 cent above estimates, while the chipmaker's revenue was below forecasts. Additionally, Micron issued current quarter guidance that falls below analyst forecasts, as demand for personal computers weakens and selling prices drop.

Celgene (CELG) settled a long-running patent dispute involving its blood cancer drug Revlimid. The settlement allows India-based drugmaker Natco and a subsidiary of Allergan (AGN) to sell a generic version of the drug in the US beginning in March 2022.

Walt Disney (DIS) is reportedly in talks to exit its stake in cable and digital news network Fusion, which it jointly owns with Univision. The Wall Street Journal said the two sides are seeking to finalize the deal before year's end.

T-Mobile US (TMUS) has been accused by YouTube of throttling the video service's content.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) is cutting its quarterly guidance because of lower than expected sales. For the quarter that ended November 28, the household goods retailer is now expecting earnings of $1.07 to $1.10 per share, compared to its previous forecast of $1.14 to $1.21.


WATERCOOLER

Streaming music subscribers are getting the Beatles for the Holidays. Industry sources tell Re/code the Fab Four's catalog will finally be made available on major services, including Spotify and Apple Music, starting on Christmas Eve.

The NFL Players Association will hear New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s appeal of a one-game suspension today. If the suspension sticks, it would be good news for the Giants' Sunday opponent, the Minnesota Vikings — and could be a boon to Vikings stadium sponsor TCF Financial. (USAToday/CNBC)