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Pre-Market: Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 Goes On Sale; Siemens, Mitsubishi Raise Bid for Alstom


Darden earnings disappoint.

Stock futures pointed toward a higher open for the week's final trading session. Before the opening bell, Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures rose 0.08% to 16,847. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures moved higher, rising 0.11% to 3,793.25. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) were up 0.13% to 1,952.80.


Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will begin selling its Surface Pro 3 today, which is marketed as "the tablet that will replace your laptop." This hybrid product, however, has failed to win over tech critics, who have, for the most, part delivered lackluster reviews so far. Writing for ZDNet, Ed Bott points out that Microsoft's marketing message, which effectively claims that the Surface Pro 3 can replace Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) popular lightweight MacBook Air laptop, proved troublesome for Microsoft from the start. Reviewers have tested out Microsoft's claim and found that no, it can't replace the MacBook Air. We'll have to wait and see if consumers agree. Shares of Microsoft were down 0.07% in pre-market trading.

Sprint (NYSE:S) has moved closer to acquiring rival mobile service provider T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) after arranging eight banks, including JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and others, to finance the proposed $40 billion deal. The deal would bring the United States third and fourth largest mobile operators under one roof, if they can pass the biggest challenge to the deal: regulatory hurdles. Shares of Sprint rose 1.65% ahead of the opening bell. T-Mobile rose 0.76%.

Siemens (OTCMKTS:SIEGY) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have upped their bid for French mulitnational conglomerate Alstom's (OTCMKTS:ALSMY) energy business by $1.64 billion, bringing the cash component of their offer to $11.1 billion. The revised offer from Siemens and Mistubishi comes a day after General Electric (NYSE:GE) reworked the details of its bid to win the favor of politicians and unions. The Siemens-Mitsubishi total bid now values Alstom's power business at $19.3 billion, while GE's total bid still values it at $16.85 billion.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), which owns casual dining chains Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, among others, saw its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings dive 35% on costs associated with its strategic reshaping effort. The Orlando, Florida-based company earned $86.5 million or $0.65 per share, compared to a year earlier when it made $133.2 million or $1.01 per share. Darden is currently attempting to sell Red Lobster to investment firm Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion. Shares of Darden fell 4.38% in pre-market trading.


Today's economic calendar is very light, with the Atlanta Federal Reserve reporting the only economic indicator at 10:00 a.m. Its Business Inflation Expectations survey gives a monthly measure of inflation and inflation uncertainty in the year ahead. It also gives a monthly measure of firms' current sales, profit margins, and unit cost changes. Today is also what's known as "quadruple witching," which is when various stock futures, options, stock index futures, and stock index options expire on the same day.

Global Markets

Asian stocks moved off a six-year high overnight, despite growing optimism in the region. In China, property trusts face a record repayment of $32.7 billion in 2015 according to new data from Chinese research firm Use Trust. That's nearly double the amount due this year. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has ignored protests by the Vietnamese and moved a second oil rig into disputed waters close to Vietnam's coast. European stocks continued this week's gains as drug makers moved higher on news that the pharmaceutical company AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) is bidding to take over Shire Plc (NASDAQ:SHPG). The European Union's Council on Economic and Finance Ministers is meeting in Luxembourg today to discuss the EU's 2015 budget. Meanwhile, NATO has reported the Russian troops are amassing on the Ukrainian border.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
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