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Wall Street meanders after primaries, ahead of Fed

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were searching for direction this morning, after the big primary night for Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, and ahead of the conclusion of the Fed's two-day meeting, which brings the latest interest rate decision and policy statement at 2 p.m. ET, and a Fed Chair Janet Yellen news conference 30 minutes later. No rate hike is expected. (CNBC)

While Wall Street was little changed Tuesday, U.S. oil prices dropped nearly 2.3 percent, the second negative day in a row and worst settle in a week. But this morning, crude's strong gain was erasing the bulk of those losses as industry data showed a smaller-than-expected rise in stockpiles. The government releases its oil inventory report at 10:30 a.m. ET. (Reuters)

Billionaire real estate magnate Donald Trump split Tuesday's winner-take-all primaries in Florida and Ohio. The front-runner dominated in Florida over Sen. Marco Rubio who dropped out of the race after losing his home state. But Trump lost Ohio to the state's governor, John Kasich. Trump also won Illinois and North Carolina, and held a slim lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Missouri. (CNBC)

In the primaries and caucuses so far, Trump has secured more than half of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the GOP presidential nomination. But for Trump to come into the convention with the magic number to claim the mantle outright, he would have to win about 60 percent of the remaining delegates. (The Hill)

If Trump comes up short in the delegate count, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who decided not to run this year, said in a CNBC interview that he won't categorically rule out accepting the GOP nomination if a deadlocked party convention were to turn to him this summer.

On the Democratic side, with an upset victory last week in Michigan, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was unable to convert the win in Tuesday's primaries. Hillary Clinton, former Obama secretary of state, widened her front-runner status with wins in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Illinois, and the edge in Missouri. (NBC News)

President Barack Obama has warned, in a veiled rebuke of Trump, that the "vulgar and divisive" rhetoric in the 2016 race is damaging the reputation of the United States abroad. Meanwhile, the president is expected to announce this morning a nominee to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. (CNBC)

Hedge funds lost an estimated $5.3 billion on drugmaker Valeant's (VRX) stock meltdown, with billionaires Bill Ackman and Jeffrey Ubben taking the brunt of the hit. Leon Cooperman told CNBC he's glad he sold Valeant "some time ago." The stock, which lost more than half its value Tuesday, was down sharply in the premarket this morning. (Reuters & CNBC)

Time Warner Cable's (TWC) $55 billion deal to be bought by Charter Communications (CHTR) is likely to be approved by the FCC. Chairman Tom Wheeler will likely circulate a draft order this week approving the transaction, with certain conditions attached. (WSJ)

London Stock Exchange Group and Deutsche Borse have agreed to a $30 billion stock merger. Meanwhile, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), owner of the NYSE, has been considering making an offer for the London exchange. CME Group (CME) has also been said to be considering a bid. (Reuters)

Photo-sharing giant Instagram plans to begin testing an algorithm-based personalized feed for users, similar to one already used by its parent Facebook (FB). That means it would shift away from the strictly reverse chronological order that the service has used since it began in 2010. (NY Times)

The U.S. founding fathers "would be appalled" by a Department of Justice request to unlock an encrypted iPhone, Apple (AAPL) said in its final brief before a court showdown next week. The government wants Apple's help in breaking into the device of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. (Reuters)

The federal government in the Washington, D.C., area is open this morning, despite a safety shutdown of the city's subway system that's setting up a disastrous morning and evening commute. Metro is expected to reopen at 5 a.m. ET tomorrow. (CNBC)

Uber is capping surge pricing in the Washington area at 3.9 times base fares during the Metro shutdown. The ride-hailing service is also offering a $25 credit to new users towards a first ride during the closure. Rival Lyft is giving new users $20 off their first ride. (Reuters)

BY THE NUMBERS

Even though the Fed's policy statement may be most impactful on Wall Street today, there are plenty of economic reports this morning, including the February consumer price index and February housing starts, both released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Industrial production figures for last month are out at 9:15 a.m. ET.

Higher interest rates pushed mortgage refinancing activity down further, and home buying did not pick up the slack. Total mortgage application volume fell 3.3 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refis dropped 6 percent.

There are no major earnings reports out this morning, while FedEx (FDX) is the highest profile company set to issue quarterly results after the closing bell this afternoon.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Oracle (ORCL) beat estimates on earnings and basically matched forecasts with revenue, helped by improvements in its cloud business. The corporate software giant also added $10 billion to its stock buyback program.

Chipotle (CMG) expects to report its first-ever quarterly loss, a change from its prior breakeven forecast. Meanwhile, February comparable restaurant sales fell 26 percent, following a series of food safety scares.

SunEdison (SUNE) will delay filing its 2015 annual report, as the alternative energy company works on finalizing its financial statements following an internal investigation of its accounting practices.

French drugmaker Sanofi (SNY) could pay privately held California-based DiCE Molecules as much as $2.3 billion, under a partnership that aims to find new oral medicines to replace injections for certain diseases.

Caesars Entertainment (CZR) could face more than $5 billion in damages, after a court examiner said a series of deals led to the company's $18 billion bankruptcy filing.

Sony (SNE) is delaying the release of its PlayStation VR until October, four months later than originally scheduled. Sony said it wants to have enough units and software available for the virtual reality system.

WATERCOOLER

Harrison Ford and director Steven Spielberg have agreed to return for a fifth installment of action-adventure franchise "Indiana Jones." Disney (DIS) set a July 2019 release date. (Reuters)

The popular musical "Wicked" has passed a billion dollars in Broadway ticket sales. The backstory of the witches from "The Wizard of Oz" is only one of three shows to do so, including the "Lion King" and "Phantom of the Opera. " (Variety)