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Pre-Market Primer: Global Indices Break Records; Australia Cuts Rates

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Microsoft recognizes parallels between Windows 8 and New Coke.

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Global markets tallied historic highs this morning as Australia eases monetary policy and European financial companies reported a strong first quarter.

After a mixed session on Monday, US stock indices are pointing toward a higher open today. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.25% at 14,943 and S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.16% to 1,616.00. Futures on the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) index were up 0.22% at 2,954.00.

The only point on the US economic calendar today is consumer credit, due out at 3:00 p.m.

The Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:.NI225) rose 3.55% to a 5-year high of 14,180.24. This is the first time that the index broke 14,000 since before the financial crisis hit in 2008.

European shares also broke records today, helped by financial sector earnings. Germany's DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) hit an all-time high of 8,188.61 as factory orders rose 2.2% on a monthly basis in March, besting expectations of a 0.5% fall.

French industrial production fell more than expected in the same month, sinking 0.9%. French bank Credit Agricole (EPA:ACA) reported a 51% year-over-year rise in net profit in the first quarter, but Societe Generale (EPA:GLE) saw earnings fall 50% over the same period.

British stocks also hit their highest level in five and a half years. The FTSE (INDEXFTSE:UKX) added to yesterday's gains, hitting 6546 before US markets opened. HSBC (NYSE:HBC), the UK's biggest bank, reported today that profits almost doubled over last year in the first quarter.

The Reserve Bank of Australia joined the US, UK, Europe, and Japan in the global loose monetary policy party. For the second time in 18 months, the central bank cut rates to by 25 basis points to 2.75%.

A Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) spokeswoman told the Financial Times that the company is going to do an about-face with Windows 8, changing key aspects of the user interface. Tami Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows division, admitted that the learning curve is considerable, and many enterprise clients are actually opting for the older Windows 7 operating system to avoid having to learn an entirely new way of computing. Users and reviewers were most disappointed with the removal of the familiar start button.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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