Before the bell: What you need to know before the US market open

 
Billy Bambrough
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An Iraqi oil well burns following an explosion from and improvised explosive device in the oil-rich Kirkuk region (Source: Getty)

Oil is falling and Australia's government is taking steps to stop Chinese firms from taking a controlling stake in its largest energy network: here's what you need to know before the market open at 2:30pm.

US futures are pointing to a strong open. The S&P is up by 0.21 per cent, the Nasdaq is 0.24 per cent higher and the Dow is 0.25 per cent up. The US 10-year yield is higher by two basis points at 1.52 per cent.

European markets are mixed in early trading following a mixed session in Asia.

Turmoil

Saudi Arabia has increased its oil production by another 123,000 barrels a day to 10.67m, the most on record.

Meanwhile US stockpiles have posted an unexpected increase. The latest data has knocked crude prices to $41.45 per barrel of US oil and $43.92 for Brent.

Read more: Oil falls as IEA cuts demand forecast amid "dimmer" uncertainty

Reuters is reporting Iraq has reached an agreement with BP, Shell and Lukoil to restart stalled investment in oil fields the firms are developing. This is expected to push up crude production in 2017.

Down under

Australia's government is taking steps to stop two Chinese firms from taking a controlling stake in its largest energy network, citing national security concerns.

It puts Australia in a similar position to the UK, where the politicians must balance security concerns related to China's involvement in Hinkley against the importance of a good relationship with the world's second largest economy.

Stocks to watch

Chesapeake Energy shares are on a tear after it said it will sell out of its stake in Barnett Shale in Texas to boost its operating profit and lower costs.

Valeant the pharma giant which has had one hell of a year – is under criminal investigation as a result of its relationship with the specialty pharmacy Philidor, according to the Wall Street Journal. Investigators are allegedly looking into whether Philidor directed patients towards Valeant's higher-priced drugs.

Read more: Last year the former the Valeant CEO said he felt good about 2016

Shake Shack – one of the new burger bars to have exploded onto the scene in recent years missed same-store sales expectations last night leading to a share sell off. Shake Shack shares were down eight per cent in after-hours action.

Companies reporting today

Department stores Kohl's and Macy's lead the earnings action ahead of the open. We also have numbers from Chinese online retail Alibaba.

Later we'll get the latest numbers from fashion label Nordstrom, department store chain Dillard's, fashion accessory retailer Ruby Tuesday, and gym franchise Planet Fitness.

In economic news

All quiet on the economic front. Initial jobless claims are out shortly, followed by natural-gas inventories at 3:30pm.

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