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Pre-Market Primer: While Still Waiting for a Deal From Congress, Jobless Claims Slide


The days are running out for a fiscal cliff solution.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Stocks may rise this morning as the Treasury takes extraordinary measures to avoid hitting the debt ceiling.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote a letter informing congressional leaders that the United States will hit its statutory debt limit on December 31. He said that his department is taking "extraordinary measures" to finance the country into the earlier part of next year. Geithner says that the Treasury can only come up with $200 billion, enough to meet the country's obligations for two months at most.

Raising the debt ceiling (mainly for the purpose of borrowing to pay off maturing debt) is opposed by many House Republicans, who feel that it is necessary to discipline the government into curtailing spending. President Barack Obama, after cutting his vacation in Hawaii short, is back in Washington to continue pushing for an interim agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff if a long-term solution isn't reached.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly slid to 350,000 last week from 361,000 in the prior week. Economists expected a rise of 4,000.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence survey is likely to show that consumers were less optimistic in December. In a report due out at 10:00 a.m. EST, the index is expected to fall to 70.0 from November's recovery high of 73.7. Also later this morning, new home sales, which are projected to have picked up to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 375,000 in November from 368,000 in October, will be announced.

After yesterday's declines, index futures contracts are rallying, signaling that stocks might rise this morning. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) rose 0.14% to 13,066 and S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures gained 0.21% to 1,416.50. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures are up 0.25% to 2,635.25.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares rose 0.45% before the opening bell after the company announced that it will open more urban retail stores next year. The lack of brick-and-mortar retail availability has been blamed for the Surface tablet's less-than-stellar sales.

Toyota (NYSE:TM) agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit over unintended acceleration in some of its vehicles. The Japanese company did not provide for the loss ahead of time, and it will take a pre-tax earnings hit this quarter. Toyota sales in the US are up nearly 30% this year.

Marvell Technology (NASDAQ:MRVL) was ordered to pay $1.17 billion to Carnegie Mellon University for infringing on patents owned by the school. This judgment takes about one fourth of the company's market capitalization. Shares fell 3% in the pre-market after dropping over 10% yesterday.

Ford (NYSE:F) will invest more than $773 million in order to update and expand six manufacturing facilities in Michigan. The company has previously announced plans to invest $6.2 billion in the US through 2015.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett

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