Home price data and oil still sliding — 5 things to know today

December 30, 2014, 1:51 PM UTC
Views Of A KB Home Development As Earnings Beat Estimates
A "For Sale" sign is displayed in front of a house at the KB Home's Whisler Ridge housing community in Lake Forest, California, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. KB Home, a U.S. homebuilder that targets first-time buyers, reported third-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates as prices and sales jumped. Photographer: Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Patrick Fallon — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Good morning, friends and Fortune readers.

U.S. stocks look set to open lower today, following declines on Asian and European stock markets. On Monday, the S&P 500 index saw its 53rd record closing high of 2014. After a slow day for data on Monday, the Case-Shiller home-price index, released Tuesday morning, showed U.S. single-family home price appreciation slowed less than forecast in October. Later, look for a report on U.S. consumer confidence.

Today’s must-read story is Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram’s piece on the close friendship between two of the most successful CEOs in recent decades: Disney’s (DIS) Bob Iger and the late Steve Jobs of Apple (AAPL).

Here’s what else you need to know about today.

1. Oil still sliding

Oil prices are under pressure in early trading on Tuesday, continuing what might be the single biggest economic story of the latter half of 2015. Oil prices fell by more than $1 Monday, bringing the price per barrel of crude oil to a fresh 5-1/2 year low. If the lower oil costs —and the lower gas prices they result in — continue into next year, it could become a major political point in upcoming U.S. presidential primaries.

2. Who helped hack Sony?

The plot in the Sony Pictures hack story keeps thickening, with The Hollywood Reporter quoting security experts who believe the hack, which has caused huge problems for the company, was aided by someone inside Sony (SNE). The FBI says North Korea was behind the attack.
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3. Another thing for Amazon to sell

Amazon (AMZN) is thought of as a way to buy consumer goods, but the company could soon be selling something else — the content management system used by the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The Financial Times is reporting that Bezos is considering selling the CMS to other local papers in an attempt to raise digital revenue in light of the Post’s declining print revenue.

4. Stocks soaring in China

China has been grappling with a slowing economy, falling property prices and increasingly tight financing conditions. But the country’s stock markets have been surging, the New York Times reports, thanks in large part to regular investors.

5. Happy 2015!

Well, it’s just about here. 2014 has come and almost gone. Over the past few weeks, Fortune has put together several looks back at the year that was, and as you sing Auld Lang Syne, check some of them out: Here are the dumbest deals of the year. Check out Five Ted Talks from female leaders. Why 2014 was a comeback year for Apple. The five absolute worst investments of the year. What movie studio had the best year? 20th Century Fox. I hope you didn’t fall for the top 5 stock market hoaxes of the year. I hope you did read these 15 great Fortune reads, and if you didn’t, you should. Athletic apparel may have been the industry that most outpaced the market this year. Josh Brown thinks 2014 was the year “that nothing worked.” Here are the best and worst stock picks of the year. Dartmouth’s Paul Danos was the business school dean of the year. Here are some bad job interview moments not to repeat in 2015. Finally, here are some great books you may have missed from 2014. That should hold your attention during a boring New Year’s party.

See you in 2015!
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—Reuters contributed to this report.

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