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Pre-Market Primer: Trade Deficit Narrowed, but Markets Are Waiting for Real Action Tomorrow

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The German high court will decide the fate of Europe's bailout funds, and Apple will unveil the newest iPhone tomorrow. Helicopter Ben might annouce another round of monetary stimulus on Thursday. Mañana, mañana.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL US stock futures pointed toward a higher opening as investors await a policy decision by the Federal Reserve and a major ruling by Germany's highest court that could throw Europe's rescue funds into jeopardy.

The German Federal Constitutional Court will rule tomorrow on the question of whether Germany's funding of the European Stability Mechanism is legal under the country's constitution. The ESM, which is funded by eurozone countries, will be essentially impotent if Germany, the largest European economy, does not participate.

Germans are already incensed enough with the European Central Bank buying up Spanish and Italian debt directly, against the Bundesbank chief's protests. The court's decision could go either way.

The other news that is keeping investors on the sidelines is the Federal Reserve's policy meeting, which begins tomorrow. On Thursday afternoon, Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to confirm that he will turn on the helicopter engines and drop some stimulus onto the markets. The recent disappointing economic data, such as August's paltry 96,000 job gains, bolster the case for Fed intervention in the markets.

The US trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed to $42 billion in July. Economists expected America's trade deficit to widen to $44.3 billion from June's 42.9 billion.

Asian markets were mixed at today's close and European indices are moderately lower. US Stock futures rose this morning with Dow (^DJI) futures up 0.35% at 13,283.00. S&P 500 (SPY) futures rose 0.41% to 1,432.20 and Nasdaq (^IXIC) futures gained 0.36% to 2,794.50.

Apple (AAPL) shares are heating up today ahead of tomorrow's event, where the next iPhone is expected to be unveiled. Shares are up 0.39% ahead of the opening bell.

Shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), the maker of the Keurig single-serve coffee cups, rose in after-hours and pre-market trading today after William Blair & Co analysts said that use of the Keurig system should increase. The analysts also noted that the company is gearing up for a stock buyback. Lavazza SpA also increased its stake in the Vermont company. The Keurig system is due to go off-patent soon, and competitors such as Nestle (NSRGF) and Starbucks (SBUX) are already rolling out competing devices.

McDonald's (MCD) will release its August sales figures today. The fast food company, which gets its largest share of revenue from Europe, reported stagnant sales in the month prior.

Yet another C-level executive has departed from Zynga (ZNGA). Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Karp is the latest in a string of departures. Seven other executives at the game company left since the latest earnings announcement, which catalyzed a major slump in Zynga's stock price.

Mark Zuckerberg will speak at TechCrunch (AOL) Disrupt today, where he will probably have to sweat through questions over Facebook's (FB) IPO, board members and early investors dumping their stock ASAP, and the company's recently-announced share buyback.


Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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