10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Here is what you need to know.

Oil tumbles below $US50. West Texas Intermediate crude oil plunged more than 5% on Wednesday after Department of Energy data showed US inventories swelled to a record high 528.4 million barrels. That selling has continued on Thursday with WTI down another 1.9% at $US49.33 per barrel, its lowest since the end of November.

The ECB meets. The European Central Bank is expected to hold its key interest rate unchanged at 0.00% at Thursday’s meeting. The decision will cross the wires at 7:45 a.m. ET.

China’s inflation picture is mixed. Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed consumer prices in China rose 0.8% year-over-year, making for the slowest increase since January 2015. Meanwhile, producer prices soared 7.7% YoY, the biggest increase since September 2008.

Australia has never had this many homes for rent. CoreLogic says, “The number of rental advertisements over the past year grew 8.7% higher for houses and 9.3% higher for units (apartments)” to 362,708 and 287,233 respectively, the most on record.

Traders are certain the Fed will hike rates in March. World Interest Rate Probability data provided by Bloomberg shows a 100% chance the Federal Reserve will raise its key interest rate 25 basis points to a range of 0.75% to 1.00% at the conclusion of its March 14-15 meeting.

The ‘trial of the century’ begins in South Korea. Samsung head Jay Y. Lee denies all charges against him in a corruption scandal that has already caused the impeachment of South Korean PresidentPark Geun-hye, Reuters reports.

Radio Shack’s operator files for bankruptcy protection. General Wireless Operations bought Radio Shack in 2015 when it filed for bankruptcy, now it has filed for a Chapter 11 reorganization, Reuters reports.

Stock markets around the world are lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (-1.2%) paced the decline in Asia and Britain’s FTSE (-0.7%) trails in Europe. The S&P 500 is on track to open lower by 0.1% near 2,361.

Earnings reporting is light. Staples reports ahead of the opening bell.

US economic data trickles out. Initial jobless claims will cross the wires at 8:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is unchanged at 2.56%.

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