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Pre-Market: Microsoft Could Release a Smaller Surface Today; US Retail Sales Decline

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Credit Suisse pleads guilty to helping Americans cheat on their taxes.

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Stock futures pointed toward a higher open on Tuesday. Before the opening bell, Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures rose 0.04% to 16,487. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) were up 0.03% to 1,882.80. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures moved higher, rising 0.10% to 3,617.

Stocks

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is set to launch a mystery product widely suspected to be a smaller Surface tablet. Sizing down from the current 10.6-inch Surface will put Microsoft in direct competition with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), who already offer smaller tablets. Microsoft partners Lenovo (OTCMKTS:LNVGY), Acer (OTCMKTS:ACEYY), and Asus (OTCMKTS:AKCPF) each have their own smaller slates. There have also been rumors that Microsoft could go bigger, releasing a larger Surface Pro 3 that would compete with laptops directly. This would mark the first time Microsoft has competed in the laptop market directly. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will take the stage in New York at 11 a.m. Shares of Microsoft were down 0.38% ahead of the opening bell.

Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) pleaded guilty in a Justice Department tax probe and will pay $2.6 billion in penalties. Credit Suisse, which had been accused of helping Americans cheat on their taxes, said second quarter earnings would be $1.79 billion lower because of the deal. Credit Suisse admitted to charges including using fake entities to disguise undeclared accounts, destroying records, and structuring transactions in a way that avoided currency reporting requirements. Meanwhile, the Swiss bank has received pressure from Swiss politicians for its head executives to step down. Surprisingly, shares of Credit Suisse rose 1.20% in pre-market trading.

In related news, the European Union's antitrust commission has charged HSBC (NYSE:HSBC), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), and Credit Agricole (OTCMKTS:CRARY) with rigging benchmark rates linked to the euro. The move comes shortly after Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB), the Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) were fined $2.3 billion over similar charges last December. The EU commission suspects HSBC, JPMorgan, and Credit Agricole colluded to distort the normal course of pricing components. Shares of HSBC fell 0.71% before the bell. JPMorgan fell 0.22%.

Economy

Another light day for economic indicators kicked off with the ICSC-Goldman chain-store sales. Flooding in the eastern US and heavy snow in the Rockies drove a steep 1.3% decline in retail sales, marking a departure from rising ICSC-Goldman numbers over the past month. At 8:55 a.m., the Redbook chain-store sales will offer another look at the nation's retail activity. At 12:30 p.m., Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser will deliver a speech on the economic outlook in Chicago.

Global Markets

Asian stocks moved lower overnight, with the energy sector leading losses. News out of Thailand, where the country's military has declared martial law amid mass political protests, also dragged on stocks, and sent Thailand's stock index to a two-week low. In Europe, stocks were off to a positive start. Russia has said it's preparing a range of retaliatory steps to combat Western sanctions placed against the country in response to its actions in the Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin is in China today, where he is expected to close a deal that would increase bilateral trade between the two countries to $200 billion.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
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