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Pre-Market: Twitter Downgraded; Ford Beats Japanese Rivals in China


Cold weather this week could hurt airlines and agribusiness.

Most stocks are headed for a positive open today. Before the opening bell, future contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) were up 0.19% to 16,438.00. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.22% to 1,829.60. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.11% to 3,535.25.

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) shares dropped more than 5% this morning after Morgan Stanley analysts downgraded the company to underweight from equal weight. The bank pointed to the high premium Twitter carries over peer companies. Their price target is $33, far below Friday's close of $69.

T-Mobile US Inc. (NASDAQ:TMUS) has agreed to purchase wireless spectrum licenses from Verizon (NYSE:VZ) for $2.4 billion. The deal is expected to be finalized by mid-year.

Ford (NYSE:F) shares rose half a percentage point in pre-market trading on news that it is gaining in popularity in China. Ford saw a 49% rise in vehicle deliveries in 2013. Last year, the American automaker overtook Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE:TM), whose sales rose 9.2%, for the first time since 2001. The Ford Focus proved particularly popular in China. Though the yen weakened over 2013 and Toyota strengthened in other markets, relations between Japan and China likely discouraged buyers from choosing Toyota.

Men's Warehouse (NYSE:MW) put in a hostile bid for its smaller rival, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NASDAQ:JOSB). The retailer offered $1.6 billion, or $57.50 per share in cash for the company, a 52% premium over its latest closing price. This is $2.50 per share higher than their previous offer, which Jos. A. Bank refused.

Later this morning, the Institute for Supply Management's services purchasing managers' index is expected to book a rise to 54.8 in December 2013 from 53.9 in November. A government report is forecast to show that November 2013 factory orders rose 1.6% after falling 0.9% in October.

Similar non-manufacturing PMI readings in Europe had some welcome surprises. Spain's service sector jumped to 54.2 from 51.7, showing that the country's recovery is gaining strength as unemployment and job cuts declined. Germany came in at 55, beating expectations by a point. France fell slightly to 47.8, but beat expectations. Overall, the eurozone services sector grew, coming in at 51, down from 51.2 in November 2013.

Intense cold weather is coming to much of the US. The cold has led cities to cancel school, and airlines have canceled thousands of flights. The weather also threatens some crops.

The US Senate is likely to finalize the changing of the guard at the Federal Reserve. At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will likely confirm Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernanke as the next Fed chair. Yellen is seen as a monetary "dove" who will likely carry on Bernanke's aggressive monetary stimulus and scale back asset purchases gradually.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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