Stocks set for rebound from worst ever yearly start

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were higher this morning, but were off their best levels of the day ahead of this morning's release of the December employment report, and after the Chinese market broke out of two days of free fall. (CNBC)

Wall Street recorded its worst four-day start to a new year ever. And Thursday's slide pushed the Dow and Nasdaq into correction territory. Ahead of Friday's session, the S&P 500 was about 1 percent away from a correction. (CNBC)

The Shanghai Composite closed nearly 2 percent higher overnight, a day after a 7 percent stock drop triggered a volatility circuit breaker and forced Chinese markets to close early for the second time in a week. (CNBC)

Before trading, China's central bank set its yuan mid-point higher for the first time in nine days. On Thursday, Chinese securities regulators decided to suspended the recently added circuit breaker. (CNBC)

This morning's monthly employment report from the U.S. government has lost some of its power as a barometer for Fed policy, with the central bank not expected to consider another interest rate hike until March. (CNBC)

Oil was higher this morning, after U.S. crude prices dropped 2 percent Thursday, settling at their lowest levels in 12 years. The wild ride in Chinese stocks sparked new worries about global oil demand. (CNBC)

Amid a global oil supply glut, Saudi Arabia is thinking about listing shares in its state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco. Saudi officials say the company is worth "trillions." (CNBC)

Cirrus Logic (CRUS) cut its revenue guidance for its December quarter, as demand for portable audio products weakened. Cirrus is among the key suppliers to Apple (AAPL) hurt by word of iPhone production cuts. (CNBC)

Apple has acquired a start-up that uses artificial intelligence software to analyze emotions from facial expressions. AI has become a huge new focus for Silicon Valley companies lately. (FT)

Microsoft (MSFT) is currently testing a cellular data app that will let Windows 10 users connect to mobile networks without a contract, The Verge reports.

Senior Obama administration officials plan to meet with Silicon Valley CEOs today to discuss whether social-media firms can do more to prevent terrorists from using their services to recruit and incite violence. (WSJ-subscription)

Two men from the Mideast who came to the U.S. as refugees more than three years ago were arrested on federal charges in California and Texas involving international terrorism. (Reuters)

South Korea resumed cross-border propaganda broadcasts today, with a mixture of pop music, a denunciation of the North's nuclear program, and criticism of the country's leader Kim Jong Un. (USA Today)

Wal-Mart (WMT) faces a lawsuit in Pennsylvania claiming store employees negligently allowed an underage, intoxicated customer to buy a box of bullets later used to commit three murders. (Reuters)

Claims of copyright infringement saw U.S Marshals shut down a Chinese hoverboard maker's stand Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to media reports. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

The Labor Department releases the December employment report at 8:30 a.m. ET, with economists calling for gains of 200,000 in nonfarm jobs, according to Thomson Reuters. The unemployment rate is seen unchanged at 5 percent for last month. There was a 211,000 payrolls increase in November.

In other economic data, wholesale inventories for November, out at 10 a.m. ET, are seen declining by 0.1 percent following a similar October decline. Then at 3 p.m. ET, November consumer credit is expected to increase by $17.9 billion after rising $16 billion in October.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams and Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker deliver speeches today, as investors continue to look for clues on the future of interest rates after December's hike. Both were voting members on the central bank's policy committee last year.

Ford (F) reported record 2015 China sales, selling more than 1.1 million vehicles in that country during the year.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Urban Outfitters (URBN) posted a 2 percent decline in comparable store sales for November and December. However, the parent of Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie did make optimistic comments about the spring selling season.

The Container Store (TCS) posted a quarterly loss of 4 cents per share, compared to expectations for a 5 cent profit. Revenue and same-store sales were both below estimates. The storage products seller also cut its forecast for the current year.

PriceSmart (PSMT) reported quarterly earnings of 78 cents per share, missing estimates by 5 cents, with revenue also below forecasts. The warehouse club operator is seeing results impacted by the devaluation of the Colombian peso, although its sales and profits are improving.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) earned $1.09 per share for its latest quarter, matching estimates, with the retailer's revenue also roughly in line. However, the home goods seller also gave current quarter earnings guidance that falls below estimates.

Gap (GPS) reported a 5 percent drop in comparable store sales for December, with numbers at Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic all lower for the month. That was a bigger drop than analysts had been predicting.

WATERCOOLER

Beyonce returns to the Super Bowl, this time as a special guest of Coldplay. The British band headlines the halftime show in Santa Clara, California next month. (USA Today)

Will Ferrell will be a co-owner of the new Major League Soccer, Los Angeles Football Club. Other investors include Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, and Tony Robbins. (Washington Post)

The Powerball drawing tomorrow has grown to an estimated $700 million, the largest jackpot of any lottery in U.S. history. The previous U.S. record was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot won in March 2012. (AP)