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US stocks poised for further gains on oil strength

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were higher this morning, putting the Dow and S&P 500 on track for a third day of gains, and the Nasdaq for a second straight positive day after breaking an eight-session losing streak. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were stronger for the first time in eight sessions, after dipping below $30 per barrel Tuesday for the first time in more than 12 years. Traders look to the government's inventories report at 10:30 a.m. ET for confirmation of industry numbers showing an unexpected stockpile decline. (Reuters)

Warren Buffett is finding something to buy amid the oil market wreckage. In the days before crude fell below $30, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) was picking some shares of oil giant Phillips 66 (PSX) as that stock hit three-month lows. (CNBC)

The head of global macro and asset allocation at U.S. private equity firm KKR has issued a note to investors warning that the current volatility in global markets could destroy less experienced investors. (CNBC)

Asian markets closed mostly higher today, with stocks in Japan up nearly 3 percent and stocks in China up 2.4 percent, even in the face of lingering worries about the world's second-largest economy and depressed commodity prices. (CNBC)

Iran has released 10 American sailors detained a day earlier, in an incident that had rattled nerves ahead of the expected implementation of a landmark nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers. (AP)

President Barack Obama hits the road today, after calling on Americans to "fix our politics" in his final State of the Union address. During last night's speech, he also criticized those doubting the strength of the U.S. economy and blamed "recklessness on Wall Street" for the financial crisis. (CNBC)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley impressed moderate Republicans with her GOP response to the State of the Union last night. But there's already backlash brewing from the conservative right. (NBC News)

MetLife (MET) is planning to split off its U.S. retail insurance business, prompted by the current regulatory environment. The company is considering options, including an IPO, a spinoff, or a sale. (Reuters)

Aetna (AET) CEO Mark Bertolini said the insurer will not leave the Obamacare health exchange market despite losing money this past year. Competitor UnitedHealth (UNH) recently said it's considering getting out. (Reuters)

U.S. and California regulators have rejected Volkswagen's proposed fix to cars that have been involved in its emissions cheating scandal, dealing a setback to the embattled automaker. VW chief Matthias Mueller meets with the EPA today. (Washington Post)

Following Facebook (FB), Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit created a new virtual reality unit beyond Google Cardboard, its thrifty virtual reality device. (Re/code)

Reed Hastings, chairman and CEO of Netflix (NFLX), said in a post on his personal Facebook page that he's creating a new $100 million philanthropic fund for education.

Apple (AAPL) would be interested in any potential Time Warner (TWX) spinoff, according to the New York Post. Apple's interest stems from the possibility of the company launching a stand-alone streaming TV service.

Walt Disney (DIS) announced it would open its new Shanghai theme park on June 16, following five years of construction. Disney had originally planned to open the new park during 2015. (Reuters)

"Sesame Street" is getting a new, upscale look for its HBO premiere on Saturday morning, after 45 years on PBS, which can offer the episodes for free nine months later. (NY Times)

Sorry, Powerball hopefuls, but there's no way you're walking away with the entire $1.5 billion. It's not simply an issue of the odds for tonight's drawing or the possibility of sharing the jackpot. It's the taxes. (CNBC)

A group of workers at a New Jersey restaurant thought their joint Powerball ticket was a jackpot winner. Unfortunately for them, they didn't realize they had read off the wrong day's winning numbers. (NBC News)

BY THE NUMBERS

Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, a voting member of the FOMC for 2016, has a public appearance scheduled for 8:20 a.m. ET this morning, while Chicago Fed President Charles Evans has an appearance at 1 p.m. ET. Evans is not a voting member this year.

Today's most widely anticipated economic release comes at 2 p.m. ET, when the Fed releases its latest Beige Book, the region-by-region assessment of U.S. economic conditions. At the same time, the government is out with December federal budget figures.

A sharp drop-off in home loan activity over the recent holidays was clearly temporary. Mortgage application volume increased 21.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

In deal news: Ally Financial (ALLY) may be willing to sell all or part of itself, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, Qualcomm (QCOM) formed a $3 billion joint venture with Japan's TDK to make components used in a wide variety of wireless devices.

Personal computer shipments suffered their biggest yearly decline ever, dropping 10.4 percent in 2015, due to headwinds ranging from the China stock turmoil to fierce competition, according to research firm International Data Corporation.

STOCKS TO WATCH

General Electric (GE) plans to cut 6,500 jobs in Europe over the next two years, including 765 positions in France. But GE said it's sticking to a pledge to create a thousand net jobs in France in the next three years, as part of its recent acquisition of Alstom's energy business.

Ford (F) has declared a $1 billion supplemental cash dividend, amounting to 25 cents per share. But the automaker's outlook for 2016 profit failed to exceed Wall Street expectations, sending the stock lower in premarket trading.

CSX (CSX) reported fourth quarter profit of 48 cents per share, 2 cents above estimates. However, revenue fell below forecasts, and the rail operator said a weak global economy and other factors would hurt its 2016 results.

Yum Brands (YUM) reported that December same-store sales in China rose by 1 percent, driven by a five percent gain at its KFC unit. That helped offset an 11 percent same-store sales drop at Pizza Hut. Yum is in the process of spinning off its China business.

Anthem (ANTM), the nation's second-largest health insurer, said it could save as much as $3 billion per year in drug costs, thanks to a re-pricing provision in its current contract with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts (ESRX).

WATERCOOLER

NFL owners last night approved a plan for the St. Louis Rams to move to back to Los Angeles, and gave the San Diego Chargers the option to join them. LA hasn't had a team for more than two-decades. (CNBC)

Ronda Rousey won't face champ Holly Holm for a rematch at UFC 200, because of her participation in a remake of the movie, "Road House." Holm shockingly knocked Rousey out in November. (USA Today)

For the first time in 13 years, Tiger Woods is not golf's top money-maker. In 2015, it was 22-year-old old Jordan Spieth, with more than $53 million on and off the course. (Golf Digest)