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Wall Street watches ECB, as futures move higher

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Global investors focus this morning on the European Central Bank, which was widely expected to unveil more stimulus measures. The decision on interest rates comes at 7:45 a.m. ET, with a news conference from ECB President Mario Draghi at 8:30 a.m. ET. (CNBC)

Ahead of the likely ECB moves, U.S. stock futures were higher this morning. The Dow on Wednesday closed slightly higher and above the 17,000 level. The Dow and S&P 500 were both up for the sixth session in the past seven. (CNBC)

Oil prices were lower this morning after U.S. crude surged nearly 5 percent Wednesday to its higher level since December 2015. But analysts warned that larger gains would be unwarranted, with the global glut continuing to outweigh demand. (Reuters)

Chinese stocks lost 2 percent overnight, as traders digested another round of Chinese data, as well as interest rate decisions from central banks in New Zealand and South Korea. New Zealand announced a surprise cut while South Korea held rates steady. (CNBC)


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio trails Donald Trump in the polls ahead of tonight's debate in Miami and next week's winner-take-all Florida primary next week. The fading Rubio was third in the delegate count, behind Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. (USA Today)

Across a wide range of industries, CFOs have conceded Trump will be the Republican candidate for president. That's according to the latest CNBC Global CFO Council survey, conducted between Feb. 25 and March 8. The CFOs see Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee.

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump joins CNBC's "Squawk Box" at 8 a.m. ET this morning. And then at 8:40 a.m. ET, we talk to former Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, who just endorsed Cruz.

Following his upset victory in Michigan, Sen. Bernie Sanders clashed with Hillary Clinton on immigration during last night's Miami debate. Univision host Jorge Ramos pressed Clinton on whether she'd drop out of the race if the private email investigation were to result in her indictment. Meanwhile, one of the biggest topics on Twitter from the debate was whether Sanders was wearing a brown suit. (NBC News & NY Times & USA Today)

Square (SQ) reported a wider-than-expected loss in its first quarter as a publicly traded company. But revenue at the mobile payments firm was well above estimates. Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey told CNBC: "We need to constantly show we're focused on the right things."

Dorsey is also co-founder and CEO of Twitter (TWTR), which is said to be sweetening its employee compensation packages to stem a talent drain, a pressing move that may be followed by other tech companies with sinking stock prices. (WSJ)

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone joins CNBC's "Squawk Box" at 8:15 a.m. ET this morning, as the social network seeks to overcome Wall Street concerns. Twitter celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.

Volkswagen's (VLKAY) U.S. head, Michael Horn, is leaving the company six months after the automaker's diesel emissions cheating scandal became public. North American regional chief Hinrich Woebcken replaces Horn on an interim basis. (Reuters)

Honda (HMC) is going to compensate U.S. dealers for losses related to vehicles they cannot sell because of the massive recall linked to potentially faulty airbags made by Takata Corporation. The plan, still being finalized, is set to go into effect this month. (Automotive News)

John Gutfreund, renowned in the world of finance, died Wednesday at age 86. Gutfreund made his name in the Treasury securities market at Salomon Brothers, making big wagers to grow the firm to a dominant force and eventually taking the company public. (WSJ)


BY THE NUMBERS

The Labor Department issues its weekly look at initial jobless claims with economists expecting 273,000 new filings for last week, down from 278,000 in the prior period.

The Energy Department is out with its Thursday look at natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET, while the Treasury releases its monthly budget statement for February at 2 p.m. ET.

American Express (AXP) holds its annual investor day in San Francisco this afternoon, with senior executives planning to discuss business trends, initiatives, and long-term strategies.

Dollar General (DG), Party City (PRTY), and Vail Resorts (MTN) lead this morning's earnings reports, while El Pollo Loco (LOCO), Ulta Salon (ULTA), and Zumiez (ZUMZ) issues their quarterly results after this afternoon's closing bell.

Box (BOX), late Wednesday, lost 26 cents per share. That was 3 cents smaller than estimates, with revenue also better-than-expected forecasts. The cloud services company projected 30 percent sales growth for the next 12 months.


STOCKS TO WATCH

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) and R&O Pharmacy have settled all lawsuits between the two, in a deal involving an undisclosed payment to Valeant from R&O. The dispute centered on Valeant's billing procedures with specialty pharmacies.

Moody's (MCO) and California public pension system Calpers have reached a $130 million settlement in a case involving allegedly inflated grades by Moody's for residential mortgage deals that later went sour. Standard & Poor's reached a similar settlement with Calpers last year.

Ambac Financial Group (AMBC) CEO Nader Tavakoli is adding the role of chief executive of the municipal bond insurer's operating company Ambac Assurance. The move comes amid criticism from a major Ambac shareholder of Tavakoli's pay and performance.

WATERCOOLER

Chipotle (CMG) completed the cleanup of a Massachusetts location temporarily shut after several workers became sick with cases of suspected norovirus. The restaurant in Billerica is set to reopen today. (Reuters)

McDonald's (MCD) suspects customers want yet more breakfast options in the afternoon. So the fast-food giant is testing an expansion of its limited all-day breakfast menu. (Brand Eating)