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Wall Street wavers in calm before earnings storm

IN THE NEWS TODAY

After gains for U.S. stocks in three of the past four weeks, futures were lower this morning. This week features the busiest week of the first-quarter earnings season and a two-day Fed meeting that concludes on Wednesday afternoon. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were sharply lower this morning, after advancing more than 8 percent last week, the third straight week of gains. Traders look ahead to Saudi Arabia's planned unveiling today of a plan to diversify its economy away from oil production. (Reuters)

Following the recent bounce in depressed oil, U.S. gasoline prices rose by 8 cents over the past three weeks to $2.18 per gallon, according to the latest Lundberg survey. Analysts said the trend would likely continue as refiners make a higher-cost summer blend. (Reuters)


President Barack Obama announced today the deployment to Syria of an additional 250 U.S. special operations forces. During a speech in Germany, he also made his case against a Brexit, calling for a united Europe while arguing for free trade. (AP)

Republican presidential rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced a deal to stay out of each other's way in some upcoming state primaries in hopes of blocking front-runner Donald Trump from winning the GOP nomination. (Reuters)

Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton each hold wide leads in tomorrow's Pennsylvania and Maryland primaries, the two biggest delegate hauls in a total of five states holding contests. (RealClear Politics)

Conservative billionaire Charles Koch, who along with his brother David are GOP super-donors, told ABC Democrat Hillary Clinton could possibly be preferable to a Republican for president under certain circumstances.

China's total debt rose to a record 237 percent of GDP in the first quarter, far above its emerging-market counterparts, raising the risk of a financial crisis or a prolonged slowdown in growth, economists warn. (FT)

Apple (AAPL) is "outdated" and losing momentum in China, billionaire entrepreneur Jia Yueting told CNBC in his first international TV interview. Jia is chairman of the conglomerate behind the so-called "Netflix of China."

The Apple Watch, largely perceived as a dud, celebrated its first anniversary Sunday. But analysts estimate twice as many smartwatches were sold during that time when compared to what the iPhone did in its debut year. Apple reports earnings tomorrow. (WSJ)

Ford Motor (F) is not interested in a merger with Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), according to CEO Mark Fields, despite comments by his counterpart at Fiat Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, that Ford could be a potential merger candidate. (Reuters)

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.1 million vehicles worldwide, including certain Dodge Chargers, Chrysler 300s, and Jeep Grand Cherokees. The potential problem is the vehicles may roll away after drivers exit. (CNBC)

Dangerous storms packing large hail and potential tornadoes were bearing down on large swaths of the nation, with forecasters warning of a bumpy week ahead. (NBC News)

BY THE NUMBERS

There's just one economic report on today's calendar: the government's new home sales at 10 a.m. ET. Forecasts call for a 1.6 percent rise to an annual rate of 520,000 units in March, following a 2 percent increase in February.

More than 170 S&P 500 companies release quarterly results this week, but the bulk of that happens tomorrow. This morning's relatively light earnings calendar includes Xerox (XRX) this morning, with Express Scripts (ESRX) and the Container Store (TCS) this afternoon.

Halliburton (HAL) had originally been scheduled to release quarterly results this morning but has delayed its release until next month as the oilfield services giant works on clearing regulatory hurdles for its planned merger with rival Baker Hughes (BHI).


STOCKS TO WATCH

Canadian Pacific (CP) saw Bill Ackman's Pershing Square sell 4.1 million shares in the railroad operator, cutting the firm's stake to 6.4 percent.

United Continental (UAL) CEO Oscar Munoz purchased nearly 20,000 shares of the airline's stock for about $1 million, according to an SEC filing.

Toyota (TM) will sell plug-in hybrid cars in China starting in 2018, according to its head of China operations.

Ball Corp (BLL) and planned merger partner Rexam agreed to sell assets worth $3.4 billion to Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group. The two beverage can makers are selling assets to allay antitrust concerns over their planned deal.

Novartis (NVS) is seeking to sell its stake in rival Swiss drugmaker Roche and has hired banks to facilitate that process, according to newspaper reports. The Novartis stake in Roche is currently worth about $13.8 billion.

Credit Suisse (CS) shareholders should reject proposed pay packages for the bank's management and board members, according to proxy advisory service Glass Lewis.

Sprint's (S) former CEO William Esrey and another former executive have sued the U.S. government, accusing it of concealing its investigation into Ernst & Young's sale of tax shelters to those executives.

WATERCOOLER

Walt Disney's (DIS) "The Jungle Book" topped the box office for the second straight weekend, taking in $60.8 million in North American ticket sales. The PG-rated movie made $96 million internationally. (Variety)

Music superstar Prince is proving to be just as big a chart-topper in death as he was in life, with his albums swamping the top slots on download charts at both Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes. (CNBC)