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Pre-Market: Microsoft Seeks New CEO Before Year End; Jobless Claims Spike


Obama will meet with Republicans today to discuss ways to avert a bigger disaster.

Markets were more optimistic this morning as relations between Republicans and Democrats thaws, but jobless claims last week were much higher than expected.

President Obama will meet with 18 Republicans today to push for a resolution to the 10-day-old impasse that's seen hundreds of thousands of government workers furloughed. To reopen the government and avoid a technical default on the debt, Republicans might offer a short-term increase in the statutory borrowing limit to allow for another few weeks of talks. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Lew will appear before the Senate Finance Committee to discuss ways to avert a catastrophic default on Oct. 17.

Despite the government shutdown, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published initial jobless claims for last week. Filings rose by 66,000 last week to 374,000. Federal workers can file for unemployment, but their claims are separate from the regular pool, which explains why last week's spike in claims wasn't even bigger. Much of the increase could be explained by layoffs and furloughs of civilian contractors.

After a mixed trading session yesterday, stock futures are climbing in the pre-market. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.83% at 14,850 while futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.95% to 1,664.50. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.96% to 3,162.25.

Stocks were higher in Europe and Japan. Japanese machinery orders rose to their highest level since 2008, gaining 5.4% to 819 billion yen in August. Chinese equities are lower after Premier Li Keqiang said that GDP probably rose 7.5% for the first three quarters of the year, falling on the lower side of estimates. He said that growth sped up in the third quarter but that isn't guaranteed to continue in the fourth.

Bloomberg reported today that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is hoping to hire a new CEO before the end of 2013. When Steve Ballmer announced in August that he will leave, he said that he plans to do so within 12 months. Microsoft is already in talks with Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Alan Mulally and internal candidates including former Nokia (NYSE:NOK) head Stephen Elop, who came back to Microsoft after it acquired Nokia's handset business for $7.2 billion. EBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) CEO John Donahue asked not to be considered.

Yesterday, IDC said that third-quarter global PC shipments were down 8% from a year ago. It was expecting a 10% decline. In the US, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Mac sales declined 11% as the consumer market suffered.

Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CTXS) shares fell 12.8% this morning after the IT company reported preliminary third quarter earnings of $0.68 to $0.69 per share, warning investors that it will miss analyst estimates by at least $0.04.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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