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Stocks on pace for 2nd winning week in 3

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were drifting this morning, following declines in Europe and Asia. The Dow was slightly higher Thursday, closing at its highest level since July 2015. Ahead of Friday trading, the blue-chip average was running a 2 percent gain for the week. (CNBC)

Citigroup (C) reports earnings this morning, after financial stocks continued their winning streak for the fifth session. BlackRock (BLK) and Bank of America (BAC) rose Thursday after profit announcements. (CNBC)

Oil prices were lower this morning, ahead of Sunday's meeting of major oil exporters in Doha about a possible output freeze. But the finance minister of Russia, in a CNBC interview today, poured cold water on hopes for a meaningful deal. (Reuters & CNBC)

China's economy expanded 6.7 percent in the first quarter, slightly slower than the December quarter. But GDP there matched market expectations, suggesting the Chinese government's target range of 6.5 to 7 percent growth for 2016 was feasible. (CNBC)


In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump blasts rival Ted Cruz and the party elite for hiding behind the delegate selection rules, in order to reject the will of the voters. Ahead of Tuesday's New York primary, polls there show Trump way in front. (WSJ)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz joins CNBC's "Squawk Box" for an hour this morning, starting at 8 a.m. ET.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton clashed with Bernie Sanders last night in Brooklyn at their most contentious debate yet. Clinton's ties to Wall Street were among the talking points. Clinton holds a wide lead in New York. (NBC News)

After a false start four years ago, Bats Global Markets (BATS) is set to begin trading on its own exchange today, after pricing its IPO last night at $19, the high end of the range. Bats earlier Thursday increased the size of the offering by nearly 19 percent to 13.3 million. (CNBC)

Yahoo (YHOO) is making it difficult for possible bidders for its assets to actually decide whether to do so, according to the New York Times. Yahoo is said to be refusing to discuss prospects for 2017 or answer other important questions.

Valeant (VRX) is working with investment banks including Goldman Sachs (GS) on possible strategic options. The troubled drugmaker has been under pressure to reduce its debt burden after its stock plunged more than 80 percent since August. (Reuters)

Twitter (TWTR) has hired a new head for its China business despite being banned on the mainland since 2009, as the social network looks to court Chinese businesses to advertise on the microblogging service amid stalling user growth. (CNBC)

Europe's five largest economies — the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain — announced plans to share more information on business owners in a bid crack down on tax evasion. The new cooperation comes in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal. (CNBC)

BY THE NUMBERS

The week ends with a handful of economic reports, including the New York Fed's Empire State survey at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Fed's March industrial production figures at 9:15 a.m. ET, and the University of Michigan's mid-April consumer sentiment index at 10 a.m. ET.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans delivers a speech in Washington, D.C., at 12:50 p.m. ET at a JPMorgan seminar on economic conditions and monetary policy.

Oilfield services giant Baker Hughes releases at 1 p.m. ET its weekly number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or natural gas in the U.S. and Canada.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) is among the bidders for some of Sports Authority's assets being sold at a bankruptcy auction, according to Reuters. Academy Sports, owned by KKR (KKR), is also said to be among the bidders, with family-owned Modell's still deciding whether to participate.

Volkswagen (VLKAY), stung by the diesel rigging scandal, posted its 16th monthly sales drop in 18 months, although the pace of the drop slowed to 2.7 percent from February's 4.7 percent.

Apple (AAPL) component suppliers Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) and Largan Precision both issued weak second-quarter revenue forecasts, casting some doubt on demand for Apple products. Apple will release its own quarterly numbers on April 25.

Costco (COST) raised its quarterly dividend to 45 cents per share from 40 cents, a 12.5 percent increase. The dividend is payable on May 13 to shareholders of record as of April 29.

Viacom (VIAB) controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone will not be deposed nor give testimony at his upcoming mental competency trial, according to a judge's ruling.

WATERCOOLER

Procrastinators have the weekend to pull their taxes together. The traditional day of dread is April 15, which is today. But for most Americans, the deadline was extended to April 18, Monday, this year. (New York Daily News)