Good morning friends and Fortune readers.
Oil prices continue their sub-$50 decline today. The price for a barrel of oil in New York fell below $45 this morning to a 12-year low. The commodity has dropped more than 55% since June as U.S. shale producers continue pumping and OPEC resists pressure to curb production.
Meanwhile on Wall Street U.S. stock futures are climbing this morning after a two-day slide fueled by anxiety about falling oil prices, which could weigh on corporate earnings. Aluminum giant Alcoa kicked off earnings season Monday evening, beating expectations with earnings and revenue due to growth in the aerospace and automobile markets thanks to greater demand for the metal.
Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.
1. More shakeups at PIMCO.
Pacific Investment Management Co. appointed a new lead manager to the Pimco Unconstrained Bond Fund. Marc Seidner will take the reins as Saumil Parikh leaves the firm. It’s the first high profile exit since co-found Bill Gross left the company in a surprise turn of events earlier this year. Gross said Tuesday that he was fired by Pimco after the firm refused his offer to accept a smaller role.
Pimco also lost its former CEO Mohamed El-Erian last year. The Pimco unconstrained fund faced the worst year of withdrawals in the fund’s history: A total of $15.9 billion was pulled out of the fund last year.
2. Boeing and Airbus deliveries.
Airbus, the Europe-based airplane maker, said it recorded 1,456 aircraft orders in 2014, beating out archrival Boeing (BA) for total orders last year. U.S.-based Boeing received 1,432 orders. However, the American producer maintained a strong lead on airplane deliveries: 723 versus 629 for Airbus.
3. Silk Road founder goes on trial.
Ross Ulbricht, founder of illicit e-commerce site Silk Road, will enter the Federal District courtroom today as he faces a host of charges: narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering conspiracies. More seriously, he is also accused of soliciting the murders of six people who he thought were threats to his online business.
4. How are U.S. small businesses feeling these days?
The National Federation of Independent Businesses will release its January data on the state-of-mind of small business owners across the U.S. It’s expected to show that small and medium-sized companies are feeling optimistic about business conditions for the next six months, although the good vibes are still not at pre-recession levels. The positive outlook could be more good news for job seekers: these companies are responsible for the majority of employment growth domestically.
5. Is General Motors ready for Silicon Valley?
GM (GM) CTO Jon Lauckner said the automaker is open to working with Google (GOOG) on developing self-driving car technology. The comments came Monday during the first day of the Detroit auto show and two-days before Chris Urmson, the head of Google’s self-driving car project, is scheduled to speak at the conference. “I’m not in charge of deciding what we will and won’t do, but I’d say we’d certainly be open to having a discussion with them,” Lauckner said.