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Pre-Market: Amazon Teases Consumers With 3D Phone; ECB Lowers Rate in Historic Move

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Initial jobless claims remain close to post-recession bottom.

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Stock futures pointed toward a higher open on Thursday. Before the opening bell, Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures rose 0.20% to 16,752. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) were up 0.14% to 1,928.40. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures moved higher, rising 0.13% to 3,748.25.

Stocks

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) plans to launch a smartphone later this month; it teased consumers with the the mystery product for the first time in a tweet sent yesterday from the company's account. A smartphone would undoubtedly increase Amazon's competition with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), but how is Amazon planning to gain an advantage against the more established players? A third dimension. Amazon's phone is speculated to offer 3D viewing capabilities -- a promo video accompanying the tweet showed phone users moving their heads in such away that suggested some sort of dynamic viewing experience. Consumers and investors will have to wait until June 18 to find out -- that's when Jeff Bezos is expected to unveil the product at an event. Shares of Amazon were up 0.33% ahead of the open.

In other mobile phone-related news, Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) are reportedly very close to finalizing a deal that would see Sprint buy T-Mobile at close to $40 per share. The half-cash, half-stock deal will allot T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom AG (OTCMKTS:DTEGY) a 15% stake in the combined company. The agreement could be announced as soon as next month. Shares of Sprint were up 1.06% in pre-market trading. T-Mobile fell 0.82%.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Action has admitted that growth in the United States, as well as in Japan and Taiwan, has been challenging for the messaging service, which was acquired by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) in February for $19 billion. Speaking at the StartX incubator event at Stanford University, Action said that despite troubles, he believes WhatsApp would send 1 billion new users to the Facebook. Facebook fell 0.54% in pre-market trading.

Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) is planning to open 200 luxury hotels in the next three years, 10-15% of which will be under the Ritz-Carlton brand in the Asia-Pacific region. China is Marriott's fastest growing market in Asia, where it already has 10 hotels built and 20 under construction. Victor Clavell, Ritz-Carlton's vice president in the region, told Bloomberg yesterday that the slowdown in the Chinese economy has not affected demand for luxury goods in the country.

Economy

Challenger's job-cut report added to the spat of jobs data that came out yesterday, showing that corporate layoffs rose to 52,961 last month from 40,298 in April, driven by a massive 16,000-person lay-off at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ). Initial US jobless claims rose by 8,000 to 312,000 last week, but despite the uptick, remained close to a post-recession bottom. The US payroll to the population employment rate was 44.5% in May, up from 43.4% in April and slightly higher than 43.9% in March. Chain store sales will be reported at some point during the day. The Fed balance sheet and the money supply are expected at 4:30 p.m.

Global Markets

Markets across the world were stayed overnight ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting where ECB president reduced the deposit rate to 0.10% from 0 in a historic move. This is the first time that a major central bank has used a negative rate. The ECB also lowered the benchmark rate to 0.15% from 0.25%. At the time of this writing, Draghi was holding a press conference in Frankfurt. Meanwhile, German factory orders rebounded in April after falling their most in a year in March -- a sign that growth in Europe's largest economy will continue its upward trend. In England, a different sign is worrying some. House prices continue to rise, clocking their biggest monthly jump in more than 11 years. The rapid appreciation of the market has some worried a bubble is brewing.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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