Stock futures are higher as Wall Street attempts to avoid its first back-to-back losses of April

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were higher this morning. April remains a positive month for the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq despite their Wednesday losses, and all three would avoid their first back-to-back losses of April with advances today. (CNBC)

The release of weekly initial jobless claims and March import and export prices come out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Claims are expected to fall by 12,000 to 230,000 for the week ending April 7. Economists are looking for import prices to rise by 0.1 percent for last month while export prices are seen rising 0.3 percent. (CNBC)

BlackRock (BLK) reported first-quarter earnings of $6.70 per share, surpassing analyst expectations of $6.39 a share. Revenue from the largest asset manager in the world came in at $3.583 billion versus a $3.40 billion estimate. (CNBC)

* Larry Fink: Investors should be 100% in stocks (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

China today vowed to retaliate should President Donald Trump escalate current tensions on trade. The country's commerce ministry also said trade negotiations with the United States would be impossible as Washington's attempts at dialogue were not sincere. (CNBC)

* Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow: Tariffs might come before negotiations with China (CNBC)

President Trump clarified on social media that a missile attack by the U.S. in Syria may not be imminent. On Twitter, the president said: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!"

Russian announced today that the Syrian government is now in full control of a town on the outskirts of Damascus that was held by the rebels. There was no official announcement by Damascus, and no indication that Syrian government forces had entered the town. (AP)

* Syria war explained: Here's what you need to know (CNBC)

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly pitching a plan to end the special counsel Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. (The Washington Post)

Additionally, Trump denied this morning a New York Times report that said the president wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in December. On Twitter, Trump said: "If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December... I would have." (CNBC)

* Senate Judiciary Committee to take up bill protecting Mueller (WSJ)
* FBI sought records of Trump 'Access Hollywood' tape in raid on lawyer Michael Cohen (NBC News)

Dino Sajudin, a former doorman at one of Trump's New York City buildings, got $30,000 from the National Enquirer in exchange for signing over rights to a rumor he'd heard about Trump's sex life, according to the Associated Press.

House Speaker Paul Ryan's retirement may soon leave his big store of campaign cash up for grabs. His campaign will decide how to hand off the keys to a war chest worth millions of dollars, a Republican strategist close to leadership circles told CNBC.

* Ryan's retirement makes Trump's impeachment more likely (CNBC)
* With Ryan leaving, entitlement reform gets longer odds (WSJ)

Apple's (AAPL) HomePod is chalking up disappointing sales figures, according to a Bloomberg report that said the U.S. tech giant has been lowering its sales forecasts and that inventory in stores has been building up.

Talkspace, a start-up that offers therapy via video chat, has hired a former senior medical director at UnitedHealth (UNH). The company is generating tens of millions of dollars in revenue, the CEO told CNBC.

Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced lawmakers for a second day Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers questioned Facebook's fundamental business model, the way it uses data and what kind of regulation may be appropriate. Here are the key points. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.48 per share, nine cents above estimates, while the home goods retailer's revenue also beat forecasts. However, comparable sales were down by 0.6 percent, and the company issued weaker than expected earnings guidance for 2018.

Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical has been talking to major creditors about loans for a possible Shire (SHPG) bid, according to Reuters. A Takeda bid for the British drug maker could be as high as $50 billion, according to some estimates.

Walmart (WMT) is near a deal to buy a majority stake in Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, according to Reuters. It would be Walmart's biggest ever acquisition of an online business.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is shedding its rare disease gene therapy drug portfolio to privately-held Orchard Therapeutics. In return, Glaxo receives a 19.9 percent stake in Orchard as well as various royalty payments.

A court revived a lawsuit involving a 2012 data breach at book retailer Barnes & Noble (BKS). A circuit court judge said victims should be allowed to seek damages from the breach, which resulted from tampering with payment verification machines located at bookstores.

WATERCOOLER

Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook made NBA history, becoming the first player to average triple-double in multiple seasons. Achieving a triple-double requires a player to make double digits in three of the five statistical categories. (USA Today)