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Pre-Market: Lower Chinese Exports Send Asian Markets South; Merger Forms World's Biggest Banana Supplier


US stocks are set for a flat open.

US futures started the week slightly lower this morning. The Dow Jones (INDEXDJC:.DJI) fell 0.18% to 16,419. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) dipped 0.18% to 1,8775. The Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) was closer to unchanged, falling .06% to 3,702.00.

Over 48 hours after its mysterious disappearance, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH360 has still not been found despite a search party involving over 70 ships and airplanes. There have been unconfirmed reports that pieces of the plane have been spotted near two oil slicks. Amidst the searchFreescale Semiconductor Ltd (NYSE:FSLsaid 20 "very important" employees were on board.

Russian troops continued to seize control in Crimea over the weekend, overtaking a border post and a military airfield. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladmir Putin received numerous rebukes for backing a planned Ukrainian referendum, including those from US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel


China reported a severe reversal in February exports and a trade deficit of $23 billion, sending Asian markets lower overnight. Exports were down 18.1% from the same month last year following a 10.6% gain in January. The perceived crash was due to the Chinese Lunar New Year, a 10-day holiday held this year in the beginning of February, the Financial Times points out. Chinese officials admit the holiday heavily distorts the trade numbers and have adjusted the decline to 1.6% in the first two months of the year. Meanwhile, Chinese inflation dipped to a 13-month low, while the consumer price index climbed 2%.

Japan's current account deficit grew to 1.589 trillion yen in January, a record low that's fueled fears of a continued economic decline. Revised GDP growth showed the Japanese economy grew less than originally announced in Q4 2013.

European stocks recovered after the news from China drove early losses. Gainers were led by Iliad SA (EPA:ILD), up 12.68% to its highest level since 2006 after announcing it would spin off some mobile assets. Italian industrial output rose while French output fell. Spanish production was up as well, but missed estimates.

In the US, the SEC said it will probe whether the rigging of Forex rates by currency traders distorted options and exchange traded fund prices.


The world's biggest banana supplier will be formed when US-based Chiquita Brands International (NYSE:CQB) acquires Irish competitor Fyffes Plc (LON:FFY) in a $528 million all-equity deal. Shares of Fyffes rose 26% on the news. Chiquita Brands was up 15.36% in pre-market trading. 

Deutsche Telekom (OTCMKTS:DTEGY) CEO Timotheus Hottges said his company is very pleased with T-Mobile US's (NYSE:TMUS) turnaround last year and that there is "no urge" to sell its 67% stake in the company. It has been rumored for months that Deutsche Telekom would sell its shares in the US cellular service provider to Sprint (NYSE:S). 

Chinese mass media provider Tencent (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) purchased a 15% stake in competitor, China's second-largest e-commerce company. The move seeks to suppress competition from rival Alibaba. Tencent dropped 2.14% overnight.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) sold its K-Y brand to Reckitt Benckiser Group (LON:RB) for an undisclosed price. Reckitt Benckiser already owns condom-maker Durex. The deal did not include employees or fixed assets. Johnson & Johnson remained flat in pre-market trading, while Reckitt Benckiser rose .45% in its current session.

Classified Ventures, a newspaper consortium including Gannett (NYSE:GCI), McClatchy (NYSE:MNI), and Tribune (OTCMKTS:TRBAA), is offering to sell auto-sales website for $3.5 billion. This comes after Classified Ventures announced it was selling to CoStar Group Inc. (NASDAQ:GSGP) in a $585 million deal last week.

A Barron's cover story warns that 3D printing stocks are overpriced thanks to hype, naming 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS), ExOne (NASDAQ:ZONE), and Voxeljet AG (NYSE:VJET). The article recommends investors seek non-direct exposure through companies like Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK), Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), Dassault Systemes (OTCMKTS:DASTY), General Electric (NYSE:GE), and Ford (NYSE:F).

Google (NYSE:GOOG) announced it will release a software-developers kit for making apps for wearable computers.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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