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Oil under pressure; Fed minutes; U.K. jobs

1. Oil drops: U.S. crude futures fell as much as 1.4% early Wednesday.Prices are struggling b...

Posted: Feb 21, 2018 9:58 AM
Updated: Feb 21, 2018 9:58 AM

1. Oil drops: U.S. crude futures fell as much as 1.4% early Wednesday.

Prices are struggling because surging U.S. production raises the threat of another global oil glut. Big producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia have been working hard to cut production and rid the market of the excess supply.

The recent strengthening of the dollar is also adding to the pressure, according to experts. Because oil is priced in dollars, a rise in the U.S. currency makes it more expensive for buyers, which can hurt demand.

On Tuesday, BP said it is now predicting that global demand for crude oil will likely "plateau" during the late 2030s, earlier than predicted by other forecasters.

2. Yellen's last Fed minutes: The Federal Reserve will release minutes from its January meeting at 2 p.m. ET. It was the last before former Fed Chair Janet Yellen turned the job over to Jerome Powell.

As expected, the Fed left interest rates unchanged. The market has penciled in three rate hikes for this year.

The minutes could offer insight into how concerned policy makers are about inflation, an issue that spooked markets earlier this month.

3. U.K. economy in the spotlight: Britain released its latest jobs data Wednesday, showing the unemployment rate is still close to its lowest level in decades.

But British workers wages have been rising more slowly than prices, squeezing consumers and their spending.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney will appear before U.K. lawmakers at 9:15 a.m. ET. He's expected to talk about inflation and the country's economic outlook as it prepares to leave the European Union.

4. Global market overview: U.S. stock futures were pointing lower early Wednesday.

European markets opened lower, while Asian markets ended the session mostly higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1% on Tuesday, snapping a six-day winning streak.

The S&P 500 shed 0.6%, while the Nasdaq closed 0.1% lower.

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5. Companies and economics: Advance Auto plans to release earnings before the open Wednesday, while Avis Budget, Cheesecake Factory, Jack In The Box, Roku and Wendy's are set to follow after the close.

The Existing Home Sales report for January is set to be released at 7 p.m. ET.

Shares in British roadside rescue company AA tumbled 30% in London on Wednesday after it announced it was cutting dividend and lowered its profit forecasts.

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6. Coming this week:
Wednesday - FOMC minutes released
Thursday - Hewlett-Packard and Chesapeake Energy earnings
Friday - Potbelly earnings

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A trough of low pressure is moving over northern California this afternoon and tonight, and that will increase our wind speed and raise our area's fire danger even further. The wind will be weaker Thursday, but the smoke will get worse.
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