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Stock futures plunge; Brent crude sinks to 11-year low

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. futures and stocks around the world were sharply lower this morning, after North Korea claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, knocking markets already concerned about China's economy. (CNBC)

Chinese regulators intervened again in the markets, and stocks there bucked the global trend, rising sharply overnight. China also extended a ban on major shareholders selling stakes in companies. (CNBC)

The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting today, in response to North Korea's announcement. If confirmed, it would indicate intelligence underestimated the nation's nuclear program. (USA Today)

Also pressuring financial markets, Saudi Arabia's fallout with Iran over the kingdom's execution of an Islamic cleric. In a CNBC interview, the Saudi foreign minister defended the action.

Brent crude futures fell to their lowest levels in more than 11 years this morning, with tensions between the Saudis and Iran seen as extinguishing the chances of major producers cooperating to cut output. Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Department issues its usual Wednesday report on oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET. (Reuters)

The Fed, at 2 p.m. ET, releases minutes from its December meeting, where policymakers increased interest rates for the first time in more than nine years. (CNBC)

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer joins CNBC's "Squawk Box" at 8:30 a.m. ET to talk about whether central bankers regret hiking rates given the global turmoil that's slammed markets in the new year.

Valeant (VRX) shares were being hit in premarket trading on a report the troubled drug company will appoint an interim CEO to fill the shoes of Michael Pearson, currently hospitalized with pneumonia. (Reuters)

Activist investor Starboard Value sent a letter to Yahoo (YHOO), saying it's lost confidence in the ability of the company's board and management to create shareholder value and that significant changes are needed. (CNBC)

Shares of Apple (AAPL) were under heavy pressure in premarket trading this morning, after dropping 2.5 percent Tuesday on a report of expected iPhone production cuts. (CNBC)

China's regulators want answers to new questions about Microsoft's (MSFT) business practices there as part of an antitrust investigation. Shares of Microsoft were lower in the premarket. (NY Times)

CES Unveiled was one of a host of events last night that officially kicked off the Las Vegas show. If the vast product reveals show any one big theme, it's consumer technology is in a transitional period. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

Ahead of this afternoon's release of the latest Fed minutes, ADP releases its December report on private sector employment at 8:15 a.m. ET, with economists looking for gains of 195,000 jobs last month, compared to 217,000 in November.

The government is out at 8:30 a.m. ET with the November trade deficit, which is expected to come in at $44.0 billion compared to $43.9 billion in October.

The ISM non-manufacturing index, out at 10 a.m. ET, is seen rising to 56.3 for December from 55.9 in November. At the same time, the government releases November factory orders, with forecasts calling for a 0.2 percent drop compared to October's 1.5 percent gain.

Mortgage application volume fell dramatically over the past two weeks, even when adjusted for the holidays. This was likely due to a rush in home loans before the Fed rate hike. All that demand being pulled forward made for a steep 27 percent drop-off.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Verizon (VZ) has begun an auction to sell its data centers. Citigroup (C) is said to be advising Verizon on the possible sale, which the company hopes will garner more than $2.5 billion.

SiriusXM (SIRI) added 2.3 million net subscribers during 2015. That was more than the 2 million the satellite radio service had most recently forecast.

Yum Brands (YUM) executive chairman and former CEO David Novak will retire in May. The restaurant operator will appoint a non-executive chairman from its board to replace Novak.

General Motors (GM) announced a 5.2 percent increase in China sales for 2015. GM and its China joint venture partners sold a total of 3.61 million vehicles during the year.

Sony (SNE) said it's sold more than 35.9 million units of its PlayStation 4, touting its dominance over rivals Microsoft and Nintendo in the games console market.

Twitter (TWTR) has been considering abandoning its 140-character limit on tweets for months. Re/code reports the limit could grow to 10,000 characters, the same as direct messages.

WATERCOOLER

The Powerball jackpot has risen to an estimated $450 million, with the drawing set for tonight. The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million. No one has won the grand prize since Nov. 7. (USA Today)