10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Here is what you need to know.

Home prices in China are on fire. Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics says home prices climbed 3.6% year-over-year, making for their fastest acceleration since June 2014. In addition, prices jumped 0.6% nationally in February alone. All of the major cities saw prices rise with a 56.9% YoY advance in Shenzhen leading the way. Gains in Shanghai (+20.6% YoY) and Beijing (+12.9% YoY) were also robust.

The Bank of Russia kept policy on hold. The Bank of Russia held its key interest rate at 11.00% for a fifth straight meeting. In it’s statement, the central bank made note of “high” inflation and warned the recent rebound in oil prices could be temporary. The decision to do nothing was highly anticipated, expected by 35 of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The Russian ruble is stronger by 0.6% at 67.7207 per dollar.

Hedge funds are shutting down at the fastest pace since the financial crisis. The Financial Times reports, data from Hedge Fund Research shows 979 hedge funds closed in 2015, a 13% jump in closures from 2014. This made last year the worst in terms of hedge fund closures since 2009. Additionally, the data showed just 183 hedge funds opened their doors in the fourth quarter, down from 269 in the third quarter. This was the lowest amount of new hedge funds in a quarter since 2009, FT says.

TransCanada is making a $13 billion acquisition. The company behind the Keystone pipeline is buying Columbia Pipeline Group for $13 billion, including debt. TransCanada will pay $25.50 per share, making for an 8.5% premium from Thursday’s closing price.

JPMorgan announced its increasing stock buyback program. The bank says it will buy back as much as $1.88 billion worth of stock before the end of the second quarter. According to Reuters, the repurchase program is in addition to the $6.4 billion program that was announced last year. The Federal Reserve’s board of governors gave JPMorgan a non-objection.

Valeant’s CEO says the company isn’t on the verge of bankruptcy. Bloomberg reports, Valeant CEO Michael Pearson sent a memo to employees on Wednesday assuring them the company isn’t on the verge of bankruptcy. The memo came a day after the stock collapsed 51% in response to management’s earnings and revenue forecasts, which were well below Wall Street expectations. Shares of Valeant are down about 85% over the past year.

Aeropostale is exploring strategic alternatives. The teen retailer announced an adjusted loss of $0.14 per share, missing the Bloomberg estimate by a penny. Revenue tumbled 16.1% to $498 million, which was shy of the $519.1 million that was expected. The company announced its exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of itself.

Tiffany beat on earnings. Luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. announced earnings of $1.46 per share, outpacing the $1.40 that was expected by the Bloomberg consensus. Revenue fell 5.6% to $1.2 billion, which was in-line with forecasts. Tiffany sees full year EPS of at most $3.83, which is shy of the $3.86 that analysts were hoping for.

Stock markets around the world trade mixed. Overnight, China’s Shanghai Composite (+1.7%) led and Japan’s Nikkei (-1.3%) lagged. Meanwhile, in Europe, Spain’s IBEX (+0.7%) paces the advance. S&P 500 futures are up 6.75 points at 2046.75.

US economic data is light. University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment is due out at 10 a.m. ET and the Baker Hughes rig count will cross the wires at 1 p.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 3 basis points at 1.87%.

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