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Wall Street looks to build on 2016 highs

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were higher this morning, after Wall Street logged its sixth positive week out of the last seven. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq closed higher Friday at their highest levels for the year. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were wavering this morning, as hopes for an international production freeze dimmed. Crude lost 4 percent Friday, finishing lower for the second straight week and wiping out 2016 gains. (Reuters)

David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of private-equity giant The Carlyle Group (CG), told CNBC he's recently shed his concerns about a U.S. economic slowdown in favor a "pretty optimistic" outlook.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump predicted a "very massive recession" ahead and "it's a terrible time" to invest in stocks. His comments to the Washington Post came ahead of tomorrow's Wisconsin primary. Polls show Trump trailing in the state to Ted Cruz.

While national polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton beating Trump in a head-to-head contest, the CNBC All-America Survey finds Americans rate the two surprisingly even on key economic issues.

A huge leak of documents implicating government heads in the setting up of shell companies to harbor billions of dollars is set to shake up global political governance. A team of journalists from around the world published what they called the Panama Papers. (CNBC)

Alaska Air (ALK) has agreed to buy Virgin America (VA) for $4 billion, including debt, beating out JetBlue (JBLU). The combination expands the existing footprint of Alaska Airlines in California. (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) preorders for its Model 3 continue to surge, topping 276,000. Starting at $35,000, the electric automaker has commitments for at least $9.7 billion worth of sales. The Model 3 plans to ship in mid-2017. (The Guardian)

Bats Global Markets plans to sell 11.2 million shares at $17 to $19 per share. The first attempt by Bats for an IPO four years ago failed, after a technology glitch disrupted its systems on the day of its offering. (Reuters)

Time (TIME) is considering a partnership with a private equity firm to bid for Yahoo's (YHOO) Internet assets, estimated to be worth several billion of dollars more than Time's market value of just $1.6 billion. (Reuters)

Time Warner (TWX) shares could jump 25 percent over the next year. That's according to a Barron's, pointing to "Batman vs. Superman" as well as a slate of nine more superhero movies in the works.

But "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" tanked 68 percent in its second week at the box office. Though it remained No. 1 with $52.4 million in North American ticket sales. (AP)

BY THE NUMBERS

Today's economic calendar is light on data but heavy on commentary from Fed officials, with the lone economic report on February factory orders out at 10 a.m. ET. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren speaks at 10:15 a.m. ET, with addresses from Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan at 7 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET, respectively.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is set to sign a measure today to boost the state's minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 per hour by 2022. New York is also on its way to raising its pay floor to $15.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Facebook's (FB) Oculus unit is experiencing delays in shipping Oculus VR virtual-reality headsets, due to parts shortages. It's not known how long the delay might be or how many shipments would be affected.

HP Incorporated (HPQ) is set to unveil an ultra-thin laptop tomorrow, hoping to make inroads in a premium market that has been among the better performers in the declining PC industry.

Spending as much as $1.1 billion, Blackstone (BX) bought Hewlett Packard Enterprise's (HPE) 60.5 percent stake in India-based MphasiS, and also offered to buy a 26 percent stake from public shareholders.

SunEdison (SUNE) plans to file for bankruptcy protection within weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal. The solar power company is in talks with creditors for a loan to fund operations during the bankruptcy process.

Staples (SPLS) has offered to freeze prices to win government approval for its planned $6.3 billion buyout of rival Office Depot (ODP), according to the New York Post.

Hain Celestial (HAIN) is reformulating dozens of its shampoos, skin cleansers and other products, as well as dropping claims involving a controversial ingredient called, sodium lauryl sulfate.

WATERCOOLER

The two hottest teams in men's college basketball meet tonight with the national championship at stake. North Carolina, the only No. 1 seed to reach the Final Four, faces No. 2 seed Villanova. (USA Today)

Winless golfer Jim Herman ended his drought Sunday, claiming victory at the Shell Houston Open and earning a trip to this week's Masters. And Herman gives Donald Trump some credit. (Forbes)