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Wall Street set to build on gains as oil, Fed remain in focus

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were higher, following oil this morning after Wall Street rallied Tuesday and decoupled with crude. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq aim for three straight sessions of gains, after their most powerful two-session winning streaks since August 2015. (CNBC)

Oil was rising this morning, as efforts led by Russia and Saudi Arabia to broker a deal among major producers to freeze output levels turned to stubborn Iran. U.S. crude, lower Tuesday, marked its 21st straight session of 1 percent intraday swings between gains and losses. (Reuters)

Investors hope to get more clues on the future for interest rates, when the Fed releases at 2 p.m. ET the minutes from its latest meeting. Chair Janet Yellen last week left the door open for a March hike while acknowledging the new year market turmoil. (CNBC)

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told CNBC this morning central bank policy is not the only factor keeping interest rates low. He also said banks would still need to be bailed out in another financial crisis even though post-2008 regulations have helped them to become healthier.


An order by a U.S. judge asking Apple (AAPL) to help the FBI access an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists is "chilling" and essentially asking the U.S. tech giant to "hack" its own users, said CEO Tim Cook. (CNBC)

Carl Icahn reduced his stake in Apple by 7 million shares to 45.8 million shares, according to a Tuesday filing. David Einhorn also trimmed his Apple stake in the fourth quarter, amid a decline in the value of the iPhone maker's shares. (CNBC)

Pipeline operator Kinder Morgan (KMI) was among the new investments made by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, BRKB). Berkshire owned about 26.5 million shares as of Dec. 31, according to an SEC filing. (Reuters)

President Barack Obama singled out Donald Trump as someone who would not be a serious president. In response, Trump said he considered what Obama said about him to be a compliment. (NY Times)

The president also challenged Republicans drop their refusal to consider a Supreme Court candidate to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama pledged to nominate qualified candidate soon. (NY Times)


BY THE NUMBERS

Ahead of the Fed minutes, the government reports January producer prices and housing starts at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Fed is out with January industrial production at 9:15 a.m. ET.

With bond yields falling and home borrowers looking to take advantage, total mortgage applications jumped 8.2 percent last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinances were entirely behind the gains, increasing 16 percent for the week.

Concho Resources (CXO) joins the S&P 500 after Friday's close, replacing Plum Creek Timber, which is being purchased by Weyerhaeuser (WY). The deal is expected to be completed at the end of the week.


STOCKS TO WATCH

Priceline Group (PCLN) this morning reported earnings and revenue that beat expectations. The travel website operator credited, among other factors, a surge in hotel room bookings.

T-Mobile (TMUS) this morning reported estimates on both the top and bottom lines, with profit nearly tripling from a year earlier as aggressive promotions helped it add more customers.

Campbell Soup (CPB) said it expected to report fiscal second quarter profit of 87 cents per share, well above consensus forecasts of 71 cents. The food company also raised its 2016 earnings guidance, helped by cost cuts.

Restaurant Brands International (QSR), operator of the Burger King and Tim Hortons, reported quarterly profit of 35 cents per share, beating estimates by 6 cents, and revenue was also above forecasts.

Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) beat on earnings but missed slightly on revenue. Same-restaurant sales rose 1.1 percent, the 24th straight quarter in which the restaurant chain has posted an increase.

Cerner (CERN) beat on earnings and revenue. But the provider of health-care IT issued e an earnings forecast for the current quarter that was short of forecasts, following weaker than expected fourth quarter bookings.

Devon Energy (DVN) exceed estimates on earnings, but revenue missed by a wide margin. The oil producer cut its dividend and exploration spending, both by 75 percent. Lower oil prices also prompted a 20 percent staff cut.

Express Scripts (ESRX) matched estimates on earnings but revenue was shy. The pharmacy benefits manager warned on outlook, blaming "constant challenges" in the evolving health-care marketplace.

Fossil (FOSL) beat on earnings and revenue in the latest quarter, and issued better-than-expected 2016 sales guidance, despite the negative impact of a strong dollar. The watch and jewelry maker credited growth in online sales.


WATERCOOLER

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is backing calls for removing the 500 euro and $100 bills from circulation. In his latest column for The Washington Post, he argued the large bills make it easier for terrorists and criminals to move money.