-Stocks rally again: European stocks are higher this morning, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index 1.8 percent higher at 10:46 a.m. London time. French bank Credit Agricole SA jumped more than 12 percent after it announced it would sell stakes in French regional banks to shore up capital and pay a cash dividend. Overnight in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.1 percent to close at a three-week high while Japanese stocks declined. S&P futures are higher this morning as well.
-Fed minutes: At 2 p.m. Eastern Time the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its January meeting. Investors will be looking for any clarity on how the Fed’s monitoring of market turmoil is feeding into their rate path decisions. Futures prices compiled by Bloomberg show the odds of another rate rise in 2016 have slumped to 34 percent, from 93 percent at the start of the year.
-Apple takes on the FBI: A federal judge ordered Apple Inc. to help the U.S. Justice Department unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. Apple boss Tim Cook published a letter this morning saying the company would oppose the court order while accusing the U.S. government of «overreach.» Cook said the company does not want to provide the F.B.I. with a ‘back door’ into the iPhone as Apple would have no control over how it would be used in the future, thus compromising the security of all iPhones.
-Corporate bond sales surge: Apple Inc. is also in the news in the corporate debt market after the company sold $12 billion of bonds in the second-largest U.S. corporate debt offering so far this year. Yesterday alone, blue chip companies raised more than $23 billion in bonds. Bond sales, which had been off to their worst start to a year since 2010, may now pick up according to Thomas W. Murphy, a money manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, who said, “This is a test. The market will let the high-quality guys go first and see what happens from there.”
-Where next for the miners? Global mining stocks have staged a rally in recent weeks, with European miners on the cusp of a bull market for 2016. That rally may be under threat now, as base metals are starting to unwind some of their recent gains while there is no end in sight to the current iron-ore glut. This morning Fitch Ratings cut Anglo American Plc’s credit assessment to junk, warning about «the high level of uncertainty regarding the ultimate success of the group’s restructuring plan.”
-Market overview: U.S. stock futures are rising and holding onto the big gains made over the previous two trading days. Markets have been wildly volatile recently and stock market moves have been heavily correlated with big oil price moves. Oil prices are up about 2% to $29.50 a barrel in early trading. European markets are also getting a boost, rising by about 1%, while Asian markets ended with mixed results. In the debt market, yields on U.S. Treasuries are dipping alongside many other global government bonds.
-Stock market movers — Kinder Morgan, Staples: Shares in energy infrastructure firm Kinder Morgan (KMI) are surging after billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) revealed that it had bought a $395.9 million stake in the company. Staples (SPLS)’ stock is rising as investors bet that the company’s planned merger with rival Office Depot (ODP) will clear all antitrust hurdles after Staples agreed to offload some of its business to Essendant. That should help convince U.S. regulators that the planned Staples-Office Depot merger won’t violate antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission successfully blocked a merger of the two office suppliers back in 1997.
– Earnings: T-Mobile (TMUS), Priceline (PCLN, Tech30), Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) and Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands (BLMN) are all reporting before the opening bell. This afternoon, companies including Marriott (MAR), Barrick Gold (ABX), and Jack In The Box (JACK) will release earnings.
– Economics: The federal government will post January’s Producer Price Index at 8:30 am ET. At 9:15 a.m., the Federal Reserve will post an update on industrial production and capacity utilization in January. And then the Fed will release the minutes from its latest policy meeting at 2 p.m. Investors will parse through these documents for any clues about the Fed’s plans for rate hikes in 2016.
-Why Saudi Arabia’s oil output freeze won’t boost prices: Oil ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to keep production at January’s levels, as long as other major producers do the same. They touted the deal as a big step towards tackling the oil supply glut, but it failed to please the market. U.S. crude futures dropped back below $30 per barrel by the end of the day. That’s because production was near record highs in January. Keeping it at that level will mop up little of the excess. The world is awash with oil. The International Energy Agency expects oversupply of around 1.5 million barrels a day in the first half of 2016. To ease the pressure on prices, major oil producers would have to commit to slashing production big time. And there is no sign of that happening. Supplies from OPEC in January stood nearly 1.7 million barrels a day higher compared to last year, according to data from the International Energy Agency.