Good morning friends and Fortune readers.
U.S. stock futures are in a positive mood this morning after five down days for the S&P 500 index. This has been the worst annual start for equities since 2008. In Europe, the eurozone’s inflation rate went negative in December for the first time since 2009, adding more pressure on the European Central Bank to begin a stimulus program, and oil remains below the psychologically significant $50 per barrel level this morning.
Here’s what you need to know about today.
1. Oil prices drop worldwide.
Brent crude, the worldwide standard for oil from the North Sea, fell below $50 a barrel in London for the first time since May 2009. The price for a barrel of Brent dropped to $49.66 in futures trading today before bouncing back to $51.15 a barrel by mid-morning in the U.K. The drop comes two days after the main U.S. oil grade also fell below the $50 benchmark. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we trundle around the $50 mark for a few sessions as investors consolidate their positions just as they did when prices hit $60,” Sucden analyst Kash Kamal told Reuters.
2. Fed minutes to be released.
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee will release the minutes from its Dec. 16-17 meeting this afternoon. They could provide further insight into when Fed policy makers envision raising interest rates for the first time since 2006, as well as what economic conditions would cause them to tighten policy. After the meeting last month, the committee said it would be “patient” on the timing for any rate increase.
3. European deflation.
Deflation hit the eurozone in December as prices dropped 0.2%, according to figures released today. The decline in consumer prices is the first in more than five years and was partially credited to sluggish growth and the precipitous drop in oil prices over the past few months. European Central Bank policy makers gather today for their first meeting of the year and will work towards decreasing the chance of a deflationary spiral.
4. Monster sues Beats for being left out.
Monster, the maker of audio gear equipment, has filed a lawsuit against Beats Electronics saying it was unfairly cut out of its partnership with the company prior to its sale to Apple (AAPL). Monster is accusing Beats of “fraud and deceit” in the way that it took control of the namesake headphones, “Beats by Dr. Dre.” The two companies created the line of headphones under a joint partnership formed in 2008.
5. C Wonder closing up shop.
C Wonder, the preppy retailer started by industry veteran Chris Burch in 2011, is closing all its stores. The 11 locations across the U.S. will shut down over the next two to three weeks. C Wonder had tried to turn around its struggling business by discounting merchandise, closing stores and cutting staff, but the efforts weren’t enough to save the company, said CEO Harlan Kent.