10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-NaimiREUTERS/Heinz-Peter BaderSaudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi at his hotel ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna on Monday.

Good morning! Here are the major stories to be aware of before markets open in the US.

Saudi Arabia Resists Oil Cuts. “OPEC leader Saudi Arabia signaled on Wednesday it was unlikely to push for a major change in oil output at the producer group’s meeting this week, a day after Russia refused to cooperate in any production cut,” Reuters’ Alex Lawler and Amena Bakr reported. “Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he expected the oil market ‘to stabilise itself eventually’ but did not comment on talks with Russia held on Tuesday, which produced no firm pledge from Moscow to help support flagging oil prices.”

Oil Prices Barely Budge. Brent crude oil prices are at $US78.64 per barrel, up 0.4%. WTI crude oil prices are at $US74.19, up 0.1%. Prices are right near four-year lows.

Europe’s Juncker Has A Plan For Growth. “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented a plan on Wednesday to leverage some 300 billion euros ($US375 billion) of largely private new investment in the European Union, saying it was time to kick-start growth without adding to public debt,” Reuters’ Jan Strupczewski reported. “Underlining the need to maintain efforts at structural reforms of ageing economies and pare back debt and deficits run up during the financial crisis, the EU’s new chief executive told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that his plan would be the third leg of a strategy to get Europeans back to work.”

The UK Is Humming. UK GDP grew 0.7% in Q3, which reflects 3.0% year-over-year growth. “The broader picture of the recovery is one of employment-led growth as spare capacity is absorbed,” Bloomberg economists Jamie Murray and Niraj Shah wrote. “The Bank of England sees only limited scope for this type of growth before inflationary pressures begin to build — putting the margin of slack at about 1% of GDP. Productivity growth, the only sustainable way for living standards to improve in the long term, has been very limited in the UK for the past 5 years.”

HP Comes Right In Line With Expectations. HP’s Q4 earnings were right in line with expectations, while revenue missed by a rounding error. “I’m excited to say that HP’s turnaround continues on track,” CEO Meg Whitman said.

HP Execs Hint That More Layoffs Are Coming. HP has laid off 41,000 people (with about 9,000 people left to go) under its current downsizing plan for 2014. On Tuesday, the company hinted that more layoffs could be coming with its plans to separate itself into two huge companies.

Markets Are Up. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 is up 0.2%, France’s CAC 40 is flat, and Germany’s DAX is up 0.7%. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed up 1.1%. Dow futures are up 17 points and S&P futures are up 2 points.

Uber Will Be Valued At $US40 Billion In New Round Of Funding. Uber is close to raising a new round of funding that would value it between $US35 and $US40 billion, according to Bloomberg. T. Rowe Price is said to be among the new investors.

Samsung Just Sold Off Stakes In Chemical And Defence Units For $US1.7 Billion. Samsung Group said on Wednesday it is selling stakes in defence firm Samsung Techwin Co and three other units for 1.9 trillion won ($US1.72 billion) to Hanwha Group units. Management also announced a $US2 billion share buyback plan, the first buyback plan since 2007.

Here Comes Data. There’s a ton of US economic data being released today. Durable goods, personal income and spending, and jobless claims come at 8:30 a.m. ET. That will be followed by the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index at 9:45 a.m. and Univ. of Michigan Consumer Confidence at 9:55 a.m. At 10 a.m., we’ll get pending home sales and new home sales. Check out Business Insider’s Monday Scouting Report for the full preview.

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