Hello friends and Fortune readers.
U.S. stock futures are sharply higher today, suggesting another strong rally is in the offing this morning after Wednesday’s strong rebound from a five-session drop for stocks. European indexes are also up strongly today, while Asian markets closed with moderate gains. Oil prices, which have fallen around 50% in the past several months, also appear to be stabilizing.
Here’s what else you need to know about today.
1. U.S. House votes to redefine a full-time worker.
The Republican-led House will vote on a measure today to redefine what constitutes a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act. Currently, anyone who works 30 hours or more a week is considered full-time, and businesses are required to provide insurance. The legislation would update that standard to require 40 hours per week in order to claim full-time status under the health care statute. The White House has threatened a veto, claiming that the move is meant to undermine President Obama’s health care law.
Also today: President Obama will discuss the Federal Housing Administration’s plan to reduce annual mortgage insurance premiums by 0.5% to 0.85% in a speech in Phoenix, Ariz.
2. Standard Chartered gets out of equities.
Standard Chartered, the Asia-focused bank based in the U.K., is shuttering its equities business. About 200 jobs will be cut as it closes its stock-brokering, equity research and listing desks, reports Reuters. The move is part of a cost-cutting plan announced by the bank in October. Standard Chartered is looking to find $400 million in savings over the course of the year. The bank has also been paring down its retail banking division, with 2,000 job cuts already announced and a further 2,000 planned for this year.
3. Constellation Brands gets a beer boost.
Alcoholic beverage maker Constellation Brands (STZ), the distributor of Corona, Modelo and Tsingtao beers in the U.S., reported a 7% rise in quarterly revenue, helped by higher sales of its beer brands such as Corona and Modelo. The company’s net income rose to $222 million, or $1.10 per share, in the third quarter ended Nov. 30 from $211 million, or $1.07 per share, a year earlier. Net sales rose to $1.54 billion from $1.44 billion. The company said net sales in its beer segment rose a toast-worthy 16%.
Check out Fortune’s John Kell on the celebrities making money off your liquor shelf.
4. Samsung’s annual update is dismal.
Samsung confirmed that 2014 was not a good year for the electronics giant. The technology company said its full-year operating profits will be down more than 30% — the first annual profit decrease since 2011. Samsung lost market share for three consecutive quarters through September due to competition from Apple (AAPL) and Xiaomi, although an improving memory chip business may have help stem the profit losses during the most recent quarter.
5. Tesco has a turnaround plan.
Tesco, the U.K.’s largest grocer, has introduced a recovery plan that it hopes will help bring the company back to growth. The company’s earnings have fallen to their lowest levels in at least a decade amid an accounting scandal that saw the retailer overstate profits by about $397 million as the grocery chain faces growing competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl. CEO Dave Lewis said Tesco would shutter its head office, cut capital spending and put dividend payments on hold.
—Reuters contributed to this report.