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Busiest earnings day, oil drive Wall Street action

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were under some pressure this morning, after Wednesday's Fed-induced decline. The central bank's policy statement following its January meeting highlighted potential economic weakness, but did not take a possible March interest rate hike off the table. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were steady this morning, building on Wednesday's gains. Over a week, depressed crude has surged 15 percent, well off the 12-year low set earlier in the month, supported by the possibility major producers may cooperate to cut production. (Reuters)

China's Shanghai composite shed nearly 2.9 percent overnight. The index, in a bear market, has dropped nearly 25 percent this year. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.7 percent overnight, languishing in a correction, off more than 10 percent in 2016. (CNBC)


It's the busiest day of earnings season today, with Dow stock Caterpillar (CAT), Ford (F), and Alibaba (BABA) out before the bell. Dow stocks Visa (V) and Microsoft (MSFT), and Amazon (AMZN) lead this afternoon's list. (CNBC)

Facebook (FB), late Wednesday, handily topped expectations with earnings and revenue. The stock surged around 12 percent in the premarket. The social network also beat estimates for user growth. (CNBC)

Amazon is said to be in the early stages of planning a subscription streaming music service to compete with Spotify, Pandora (P), and Apple (AAPL). Meanwhile, Spotify is looking to raise at least $500 million in new funding. (NY Post & NY Times)

Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer has a list. On it are exactly three options, according to numerous sources close to the situation: Invest/Maintain/Kill. The effort could yield substantive layoffs. (Re/code)

Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google is asking for sanctions against Oracle (ORCL) after an Oracle lawyer discussed in court confidential details about the search giant's relationship with Apple.

A lab operated by controversial blood testing startup Theranos poses "immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety," according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (CNBC)

The rapid spread of the zika virus across the Americas has spurred research into a cure, but the financial incentive and likely length of time for a vaccine to be developed remain unclear. (CNBC)

President Obama is expected to sign a memorandum today to create a White House task force on cancer, the first step in what Vice President Joe Biden has called a "moonshot" to cure the disease. (NY Times)

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stood his ground in an appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" last night concerning his decision not to participate tonight's Fox News debate. (USA Today)

GOP super PACs supporting Ted Cruz are offering $1.5 million to veterans charities if Trump agrees to debate Cruz one-on-one before Monday's Iowa caucus. Meanwhile, Cruz laid out a specific proposal. (NBC News)

With days until the Iowa caucuses, Trump pulled ahead of Cruz with a seven-point lead, according to a trio of new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls. Democrat Hillary Clinton remained just three points in front of Bernie Sanders.

BY THE NUMBERS

In addition to the flood of earnings, it's also a busy morning for economic numbers, with weekly initial jobless claims and December durable goods orders both out at 8:30 a.m. ET. The National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales report for December at 10 a.m. ET.

EBay (EBAY), late Wednesday, matched forecasts with earnings and revenue. But the e-commerce giant warned on guidance for the current year, amid growing online competition.

PayPal (PYPL), spun-off from eBay last July, reported earnings and revenue that beat expectations. The online payment firm also announced a $2 billion stock buyback program.

Qualcomm (QCOM) beat expectations on earnings and revenue. But the chipmaker issued current quarter guidance below forecasts, due to flagging demand for mobile chips, among other factors.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Bank of America (BAC) is trying patent some of the use cases of blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin. Blockchain works like a huge, decentralized ledger for the digital currency.

Alibaba (BABA) reached a $900 million deal to sell its stake in China's largest online provider of movie ticketing. That's according to the Wall Street Journal. Alibaba is builds its own competing platform.

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) shares are lower overseas and in the premarket, on concerns about the automaker's updated business plan which increases emphasis on North American sales and the popularity of SUVs.

Artisan Partners, a major shareholder in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), is urging activists to pressure the consumer products giant to consider changes, including a potential split.

Neos Therapeutics (NEOS) shares were soaring in the premarket, after the FDA approved the small company's new drug to treat ADHD, the first treatment of its kind to win U.S. approval.

WATERCOOLER

Mansion prices show no signs of slowing in rich enclaves such as the Hamptons, Beverly Hills and Aspen, suggesting that the global market panic has yet to spread to top trophy homes. (CNBC)

After 34 years, the DeLorean Motor Company is resurrecting the iconic car from the 1980s film "Back to the Future." Starting in 2017, the company plans to crank out as many as 325 DeLoreans over 5 years, costing at least $100,000. (The Verge)

Limited-edition Air Jordans go on sale this Saturday. But people have already started lining up in Chicago. The "Just Don" sneakers cost $650 a pair, but can sell for triple that amount online. (Chicago Tribune)