Updated from 5:57 a.m. EST
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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, March 9:
1. -- U.S. stock futures declined and European stocks traded in the red after oil prices fell below $50 a barrel for the first time since December.
Investors in Europe also were looking ahead to Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil was trading down 2.4% to $49.09 a barrel early Thursday, after plunging more than 5% on Wednesday following a report from the Energy Information Administration that disclosed oil reserves grew by 8 million barrels last week, much more than analysts had expected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated again on Wednesday, its first three-day decline since January, as crude oil suffered the largest drop in more than a year.
"The rising crude inventory levels in the U.S. to new all-time highs has been the No. 1 reason why prices have been unable to move further higher after the [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] had agreed with some non-OPEC members to limit production back in November," said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at Forex.com.
Thursday marks the eighth anniversary of the U.S. bull market. On March 9, 2009, less than two months into the Obama presidency, the blue-chip Dow dropped to 6,547, a level not seen since April 1997. The S&P 500 followed suit, plummeting below 700 to a 13-year low. Since then, the Dow has more than tripled in value, and the S&P 500 has gained nearly 250%.
2. -- Akzo Nobel (AKZOY) , the Dutch maker of paints and chemicals, rejected an unsolicited $22.1 billion takeover bid from PPG Industries (PPG - Get Report) .
Akzo Nobel said Thursday it would look at selling or floating one of its key business units in order to boost investor returns.
Akzo Nobel said PPG offered to buy it for around €83 a share ($87.66) in cash and stock, a 29% premium to Akzo Nobel's closing price on Wednesday. Akzo Nobel rejected the PPG bid, but said it would look at strategic alternatives, including the sale of its specialty chemicals business, which had €4.8 billion in sales last year.
"Our decision today was brought forward due to recent events," said CEO Ton Buchner. "The unsolicited proposal we received from PPG substantially undervalues our company and contains serious risks and uncertainties. The proposal is not in the interest of Akzo Nobel's stakeholders, including its shareholders, customers and employees, and we have unanimously rejected it."
Shares of PPG closed Wednesday with a gain of 6% to $106.83.
3. -- Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A - Get Report) said Thursday it would significantly reduce its assets in Canada's controversial oil sands area in the province of Alberta in a two-part deal valued at $7.25 billion.
Shell will its 60% interest in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project and its 100% interest in its Peace River Complex, along with other assets in Alberta, to Canadian Natural Resources (CNO - Get Report) for around $8.5 billion in cash and stock. The two companies will also take an equal stake in Marathon Oil Canada Corp., a subsidiary of Marathon Oil (MRO - Get Report) , which has a 20% stake in Athabasca, for $1.25 billion.
"We are strengthening Shell's world-class investment case by focusing on free cash flow and higher returns on capital, and prioritizing businesses where we have global scale and a competitive advantage such as integrated gas and deep water." said CEO Ben van Beurden. "The proceeds will accelerate free cash flow and reduce gearing and make a meaningful contribution to Shell's $30 billion divestment program."
Marathon Oil, meanwhile, announced it would acquire about 70,000 net surface acres in the Permian basin from BC Operating Inc. for $1.1 billion in cash.
4. -- An investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. and media executive Ynon Kreiz decided not to continue its pursuit of Time Inc. (TIME) , a person briefed on the sale process told The New York Times.
The group had been among the parties that had expressed interest in buying Time Inc., which publishes Time, Sports Illustrated and People magazines. Time Inc. had requested formal bids from potential suitors by this week. Meredith (MDP - Get Report) , the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle, also had indicated its interest in buying Time Inc., the Times reported.
5. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. EST and Import and Export Prices for February at 8:30 a.m.
Staples (SPLS) reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.46 a share, a reversal from a year-earlier profit of 13 cents.
The office products retailer said Thursday it would close 70 stores in North America in 2017. The stock rose slightly in premarket trading.