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Pre-Market: FCC Vote Could See Google, Netflix Paying More; US Consumer Prices

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Fast food workers around the world strike for higher wages.

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Stock futures pointed toward a higher lower open on Thursday morning. Before the opening bell, Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) fell 0.17% to 16,559. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) were down 0.17% to 1,882.10. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures moved lower, falling 0.08% to 3,593.50.

Stocks

The FCC will vote today on whether to move a highly contested Internet service proposal into a public comment period. The proposal seeks to allow Internet service providers the ability to charge large online content companies such as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) or Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) more money for more stable, faster service. A movement called Occupy the FCC is opposing the measure, arguing that it would afford telecommunications companies too much control over what Occupy the FCC sees as a public utility, akin to water or gas, that should be readily available to everybody. The proposal is being backed by FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler and has received support from Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, who argue that classifying ISPs as utilities inhibits providers such as Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ).

Fast food workers in dozens of countries around the world will hold wage strikes today outside of McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Burger King (NYSE:BKW), and KFC (NYSE:YUM) outlets in hopes for higher pay and better workers' rights. In the US, the organization Fast Food Forward has organized a nationwide protest of what's expected to be thousands of the country's estimated 4 million fast-food workers. Wage and workers' rights issues are expected to be a central focus at McDonald's annual shareholder meeting on May 22. Shares of McDonalds were down 0.17% in pre-market trading.

As earnings season winds down, two heavyweights posted results since the close of yesterday's session. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) saw profits fall 5% from the previous year in this past quarter, blaming bad weather for poor store sales. Meanwhile, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) reported less-than-expected losses of 5.5% as demand in the US and Northern Europe showed strength. Shares of Wal-Mart fell 3.16% in pre-market trading, while Cisco rose by an impressive 7.19%.

Economy

Consumer prices in the US continued to rise in April, increasing 0.3% versus 0.2% in March. Prices for fuel, food, and homes led in gains. Meanwhile, initial jobless claims fell by 24,000 to 297,000 -- their lowest level since 2007. Jobless claims widely beat estimates, which had estimated this month's number at 320,000.

The day continues with a slew of economic indicators. The Treasury International Capital report will show the flow of financial instruments into and out of the US during the month of March when it's released at 9:00 a.m. EDT. The Federal Reserve's monthly index of industrial production arrives at 9:15 a.m. At 9:45 a.m., expect the Bloomberg Consumer Confidence Index. The Philly Fed business outlook, the NAHB Housing Market Index, and e-commerce retail sales all arrive at 10:00 a.m. After the closing bell, the Fed will release the money supply and its balance sheet at 4:30 p.m. Janet Yellen will be speaking to the Small Business Administration in Washington at 6:10 p.m.

Global Markets

Asian stocks traded into the red overnight, with the benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific Index moving off a four-month high. Japan's GDP grew at an annualized pace of 5.9% in the first quarter, the fastest growth rate in nearly three years. The jump beat expectations and is being attributed to the consumer spending boost that preceded the country's April sales tax increase. Meanwhile, in the eurozone, growth disappointed, growing by a mere 0.2% as French growth halted unexpectedly and Italy and the Netherlands saw their economies shrink. Inflation in the region accelerated to 0.7 in April from 0.5% a month earlier, but it still remains in what the European Central Bank has labeled the "danger zone" below 1%. Russia headed toward its slowest growth since 2009 as its involvement in the Ukraine crisis has severely cut foreign investment in the country.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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