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Pre-Market Primer: German Confidence Rises; US Trade Deficit Grows

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Leaders of both parties in Washington are keeping their progress on the fiscal cliff debate under wraps for now.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Before the opening bell today, stock futures are signaling gains as German economic sentiment surged.

Germany's ZEW survey showed that the country's financial experts are much more bullish than they were last month. The leading indicator of business conditions unexpectedly rose to 6.9 this month from -15.7 last month. Outlook on current conditions rose to 5.7 from 5.4. ZEW attributes this rise to pre-Christmas optimism, but they feel that it shows that Germany is unlikely to face a recession, unless the greater eurozone crisis deepens further.

The US trade deficit widened to $42.2 billion in October from a downwardly revised $40.3 billion in September, falling just shy of estimates. Later today, the government will likely show that wholesale inventories rose 0.4% in October after a steep 1.1% rise in September.

Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures gained 0.25% to 13,220 before the opening bell. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) were up 0.25% to 1,423.70 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.27% to 2,657.75.

Copper production, a leading indicator of manufacturing activity, rose 2.1% in China last month. New yuan loans in the country rose to 522.9 billion, falling short of estimates.

The Treasury sold off $7.6 billion worth of shares in American International Group (NYSE:AIG). The combined profit that the Federal Reserve and Treasury made from bailing out the insurance giant totals $22.7 billion.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares advanced 0.8% this morning after Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) reiterated its 'overweight' recommendation on the stock on expectations that the electronics giant will begin marketing televisions.

The Fed will start its two-day policy meeting today. Economists are expecting that in addition to quantitative easing, the Fed will begin another program of buying Treasuries to replace Operation Twist, which is due to expire at the end of the year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans and the White House have become more serious about coming to an agreement that will avert the fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax increases. The paper says that one positive sign is that the two sides have agreed to a public moratorium on making comments about the talks.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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