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Pre-Market: Ford CEO Ends Rumors He Will Take Over at Microsoft; Private-Sector Job Growth Improves

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Shares of Micron Technology jumped 9.9% in the pre-market after the company reported better-than-expected earnings yesterday.

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US stocks are heading lower today despite an encouraging report that US companies are adding more jobs to the payrolls than expected.

Ford (NYSE:F) shares jumped 1.4% this morning after its CEO, Alan Mulally officially ended speculation that he will leave Ford for the top job at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Mulally said that he plans to stay at Ford through the end of this year, and has no further plans. The remaining candidates are Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Steve Mollenkopf and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) CEO John Donahoe as well as Microsoft veterans Satya Nadella, Tony Bates, and Stephen Elop.

Shares of Micron Technology Inc. (NYSE:MU) jumped 9.9% in the pre-market after the company reported better-than-expected earnings yesterday. The semiconductor manufacturer earned $358 million, or $0.30 per share, on revenue of $4.04 billion in the first fiscal quarter. Adjusted EPS was $0.77, beating Wall Street's expectations by $0.34. This compares to a loss of $0.27 per share from $1.83 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) shares rose 0.5% after the seed company released earnings for the recent quarter. Fiscal first-quarter earnings per share came in at $0.67, beating expectations by $0.03. Revenue came in at $3.14 billion.

Stock futures are mostly lower in pre-market trading, making it likely that major indices will give up Tuesday's gains. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were down 0.08% at 16,441. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures fell 0.08% to 1,829.30 and futures on the Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) ticked up 0.01% to 3,549.00.

In an encouraging preview for this Friday's employment situation report, ADP, the payrolls processor, said that private-sector job growth was better than expected in December 2013. Last month, 238,000 new jobs were added, up from 229,000 in November. Economists expected only 205,000 new hires.

This afternoon, investors will get a look at the reasoning behind the Federal Reserve's decision to pare its monthly asset purchases. At 2:00 p.m., the central bank will release minutes of that pivotal meeting.

Asian stocks closed higher today while European indices are down slightly. A report today showed that retail sales in the eurozone were far better than expected. Sales rose 1.4% on a monthly basis in November 2013, beating expectations of a 0.2% rise. The unemployment rate held steady at 12.1%.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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