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Can Wall Street rally after hitting 2016 highs?

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were searching for direction this morning, following the highest finishes of 2016 for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq. European stocks were mixed today, while Asian markets were mostly higher. (CNBC)

Bank earnings continue play a central theme this morning, after JPMorgan's better-than-expected results Wednesday. Bank of America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC) report quarterly results this morning. (CNBC)

BlackRock (BLK) earned an adjusted $4.25 per share for its latest quarter, 4 cents below estimates. Revenue was also below forecasts, in what CEO Larry Fink called a "challenging market environment." BlackRock did announce a 5 percent increase in its dividend. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were relatively flat this morning, after breaking a three-session winning streak Wednesday. Russia hinted there might only be a loose output freeze at Sunday's meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC producers. (Reuters)

Global oil demand growth is forecast to ease further in 2016, the IEA said today, predicting a slowdown from some of the world's top consumers but a rise in demand in India. (CNBC)

U.S. oil and gas producer Energy XXI, which has operations in Louisiana, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, has filed for bankruptcy, becoming one of the biggest casualties of the crude rout. (Reuters)

The Obama administration is planning today to unveil the final version of its well control rule, the biggest offshore drilling rule since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. (The Hill)

Microsoft (MSFT) founder Bill Gates told CNBC he's "surprised there were so few Americans" named in the Panama Papers, the massive anonymous data dump on hidden financial dealings around the globe.

U.S. auto safety regulators said there are about 85 million un-recalled Takata airbag inflators in American vehicles that will need to be eventually recalled unless the Japanese firm can prove they are safe. (Reuters)

Verizon (VZ) CEO Lowell McAdam called the views of Sen. Bernie Sanders "uninformed," after the Democratic presidential candidate publicly backed the strike against the telecom giant. (CNBC)

Florida prosecutors are expected to announce today they won't prosecute Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on a battery charge in connection with a reporter. (NBC News)

Ringo Starr, the former Beatles drummer, is the latest artist to cancel an event in North Carolina after the state passed a bill which removed anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. (CNBC)

Facebook (FB) has hired Regina Dugan from Google, poaching the former director of the U.S. research agency DARPA to lead a new research and development lab focused on large technological leaps. (FT)

Federal health officials may ban Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of blood-testing startup Theranos, from owning or running any labs for at least two years, after regulators said the company failed to fix "major problems" at a California lab. (WSJ)

A start-up that uses artificial intelligence to carry out complex background checks needed in today's "sharing economy" has raised $25 million from venture capital firms that have previously invested in the likes of Spotify and Dropbox. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

It's a busy day on the economic calendar, with the government issuing initial jobless claims for last week and the March consumer price index at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Energy Department releases its weekly look at natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Two Fed officials make public appearances today, in separate 10 a.m. ET speeches from Fed Governor Jerome Powell in Washington and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart in Chicago.

STOCKS TO WATCH

The CME Group (CME) plans to close its New York trading floor by the end of the year. The venue represents just 0.3 percent of the CME's overall energy and metals trading volumes.

McDonald's (MCD) is targeting private equity firms, including Bain Capital, MBK Partners, TPG Capital Management, and Chinese state-backed conglomerate China Resources, for its planned sale of 2,800 restaurants in North Asia, according to Reuters.

Tiffany (TIF), Michael Kors (KORS) and other luxury goods sellers could be under pressure once again, following a profit warning from Britain's Burberry Group. The high-end sector was hit earlier this week on downbeat results from France's LVMH.

Pier 1 Imports (PIR) beat estimates by 2 cents with quarterly profit of 23 cents per share, with revenue also beating forecasts. However, the retailer warned on full-year results, and the stock was sharply lower in premarket trading.

Seagate Technology (STX) cut its outlook for its most recent quarter, because of weaker demand for enterprise disk drives, among other factors. Rival disk drive maker Western Digital (WDC) was also seeing pressure on its stock based on Seagate's outlook.

Valeant's (VRX) corporate credit rating was lowered to B from B+ by Standard & Poor's, which said the move reflects increased risk if the drugmaker is unable to file its 10K by April 29 and is put in default by debt holders.

WATERCOOLER

Trader Joe's has been dethroned as America's favorite grocery store, according to an annual survey. For the first time in four years, Trader Joe's was not No. 1, falling to third behind Wegmans and Publix, respectively. (CNBC)

In the final game of his storied career, Kobe Bryant scored 60 points and even managed to overshadow the Golden State Warriors as they became the greatest team in NBA history. (NBC News)