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S&P 500: The 1996-2006 Cyclical Malaise

Oil is down, Brexit negotiations are dragging on and China eases a little more. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Oil falls

Oil is trading lower after U.S. crude inventories rose to their highest level since at least 1930 with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate 65 cents lower at $30.12 at 10:55 a.m. London time. Oil industry leaders are gathering in Houston, Texas next week for the IHS CERAWeek conference - often dubbed the Davos of the energy industry - as questions over the viability of large parts of the industry are brought to the fore due to the price plunge.

Brexit

British Prime Minister David Cameron is in Brussels trying to get a deal on the U.K.'s membership of the European Union that would allow him to win the coming referendum on that membership. Talks which went on until very late last night did produce some progress, but not enough for a deal yet, Cameron said. One piece of analysis shows that if the U.K. does end up leaving the European Union, no one there would escape unhurt. The slow progress in Brussels is hitting the pound, which extended this week's loss to 1.4 percent against the dollar. 

China eases (a little) more

China’s Ministry of Finance said it will cut taxes on home transactions as it steps up support for the property market, adding to measures reducing down-payment requirements for first-time buyers announced earlier this month. People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said this morning that the country's past as a centrally planned economy means officials are more likely to want to intervene in the new market economy. His comments came after the central bank said that it will increase reserve ratios for some banks who no longer meet the criteria for preferential reserve requirement ratios following a sharp increase in lending in January. 

Stocks weaken

European stock markets are ending the week on a soft note, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index 0.6 percent lower at 11:20 a.m. London time, with insurers, auto-makers and miners all lower. Overnight, stocks in China closed virtually unchanged to cap their best week in two months while in Japan the Topix index pared the week's rally to 8 percent when it closed 1.5 percent lower. S&P 500 futures are pointing to a red open.

Coming up...

At 8:30 a.m. ET the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the latest CPI data for the U.S., with the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg for an increase to 1.3 percent in the headline number. Core CPI (which excludes food and energy) is expected to show a 2.1 percent increase from last year. This weekend also sees South Carolina's Republican primary, a vote with a near-perfect record in predicting the eventual nominee. 

What we've been reading 

This is what's caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

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(Corrects spelling of IHS CERAWeek in second paragraph)

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