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Pre-Market: Lloyds Banking Group Posts 22% Profit; US Jobless Claims Moved Higher

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China attempts to revive its ailing exports.

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Stock futures pointed toward a slightly higher open on Thursday. Before the opening bell, the Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were flat. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) were up 0.02% to 1,878.30. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures moved lower, falling 0.24% to 3,581.75.

Stocks

More earnings arrived overnight, with Lloyds Banking Group (NYSE:LYG) notably reporting a 22% rise in profits thanks to a decline in bad loans and a stronger English economy. Sony (NYSE:SNE) posted a $1.3 billion net loss in its fiscal year ending in March, significantly missing the company's own previous guidance. Shares of Sony fell 3.63% in pre-market trading.

A number of possible acquisitions are brewing, as AT&T (NYSE:T) is reportedly seeking to buy out DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) for at least $40 billion. Together, the companies would boast nearly 26 million TV subscribers, which is a few million shy of the 30 million subscribers Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) would have if it acquires Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC). Shares of AT&T fell by 0.56% ahead of the opening bell, while DirecTV's shares rose 6.95%.

Meanwhile, Sprint (NYSE:S) is planning on moving its bid for T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) forward after meeting with banks to structure the offer. Sprint is expected to make a formal bid for T-Mobile, which has a $23.5 billion market value, in June or July. Shares of Sprint rose 8.82% in pre-market trading. T-Mobile traded as high as 7.55%.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. may reacquire its stake in its online payment affiliate Alipay. A proposed one-third stake would significantly raise the value of Alibaba ahead of its upcoming initial public offering. Alibaba's IPO is expected to be one of the largest in US history.

Earnings season continues today, with investors looking for ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) to report on how Russian sanctions could hurt the company's holdings. LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), Kraft (NASDAQ:KRFT), and Yelp (NYSE:YELP) should all have active trading days following their morning earnings reports.

Economy

At the time of this writing, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is giving a speech to the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) in Washington, D.C., her first public address since the FOMC meeting wrapped yesterday.

A slew of economic indicators should keep investors busy until Yellen wraps up. Leading them are initial jobless claims, which showed an additional 14,000 people were without work last week, bringing the total number of seasonally adjusted jobless claims to 344,000. Personal income increased by $78.4 billion, or 0.5%, in March, while disposable personal income increased by $68 billion. Increases in personal consumption expenditures outpaced disposable income at $107.2 billion. The Challenger job cuts report showed job cuts rising 17% in April, with the retail and finance sectors leading the firing.

At 9:45 a.m. EDT, both the Bloomberg Confidence Index and the US PMI manufacturing index will be released. The ISM manufacturing index will follow at 10:00 a.m., as will construction spending. The EIA natural gas inventory is expected at 10:30 a.m. Following the close, the Fed will release its balance sheet and the money supply at 4:30 p.m.


Global Markets

The May Day holiday saw many exchanges closed across Europe and Asia on Thursday, likely mitigating the impact of China's Purchasing Managers' Index coming in below estimates. China's April PMI was 50.4, which marked an expansion from a reading of 50.3 in March -- however, analysts had pegged PMI coming in at 50.5. Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has promised that China will exact a number of measures to reach its full-year trade target, including improvement to trade financing and relaxing some inspection regulations. In the UK, stocks moved higher as the the country showed further signs of recovery. English manufacturing PMI jumped to 57.3 in April from 55.8 a month prior.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
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