Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street stock futures are set to open lower again, despite a bounce in European stocks in early trade Thursday. Crude oil futures have given up almost all of their gains after an overnight bounce, and look are again testing the $28/barrel.
Today’s must-read story is from Fortune‘s Beth Kowitt and it looks at a dairy giant in the U.S. that’s turning cow manure into fuel as its founders aim to eliminate their carbon footprint.
Here’s what else you need to know to start the day.
1. Putin “Probably” Approved Spy’s Murder With Polonium
Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” approved the murder in 2006 of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy turned British informant, a public inquiry in the U.K. concluded Thursday. The findings of a 12-month long public inquiry will further strain relations between Russia and the West, adding to tensions over the annexation of Crimea and fomenting of civil war in Ukraine, as well as over Russia’s support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the inquiry’s findings ‘biased’ and said they politicised a purely judicial affair.
2. Starbucks Q1 earnings
The world’s largest coffee chain operator is expected to report sales for the first quarter of its fiscal year that beat analysts’ expectations after Starbucks (SBUX) delivered a disappointing holiday profit forecast due to the strong U.S. dollar. Investors will be watching for second-quarter revenue estimates as well as a possible uptick in same-store sales in China.
3. Verizon looks to beat Wall Street’s Q4 estimates
Telecoms giant Verizon Communications (VZ) is likely to post fourth-quarter revenue figures that outpace Wall Street’s estimates, with the company expected to have seen a bump in wireless subscribers following an expanded promotional push. Investors will also want to hear about Verizon’s spending plans for the rest of the year after the company bought AOL for $4.4 billion last year and is reportedly considering more acquisitions.
4. ECB’s rates decision
The European Central Bank announces its interest rate decision today and financial markets have so far shown little indication that a rate cut is expected despite flagging oil prices and weaker-than-expected inflation. The central bank is expected to keep rates steady and hold off from any other new stimulus measures, much as the Bank of England recently ruled out following in the footsteps of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate hike. Investors will keep an eye on ECB President Mario Draghi for any indication of any rate movement that could come in the near future.
5. Weekly jobless claims
The Labor Department is expected to report that the number of Americans who filed applications for unemployment benefits last week fell by 6,000 claims, to 278,000. The drop in the number jobless claims suggests that company layoffs have not increased across the board in the U.S. despite the market’s volatile start to the year.
— Reuters contributed to this post.