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Pre-Market Primer: US Gives Japan Green Light to Fight Deflation; Fed Speeches and State of the Union on Tap

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The G7 even commented on the talk of currency wars.

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Ahead of speeches from major Fed heads and the president, stocks are lower this morning.

After trading volume yesterday was the lightest for the year so far, stock index futures shifted lower before the market open. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are down 0.03% at 13,915. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) slipped 0.05% to 1,512.30 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures fell 0.11% to 2,767.50. No major economic announcements come out today.

Japanese stocks rallied nearly 2% and the yen fell to 94.25 to the dollar after US Treasury official Lael Brainard said that the US would not oppose weakening of the yen. Harukiko Kuroda, a candidate for incoming Bank of Japan governor, said tht he was open to more aggressive easing. Japanese Economics Minister Akira Amari said that his goal was to have the Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:.NI225) rally to 13,000 by the end of March. The index ended the day at 11,369.12.

The G7 finance ministers issued a statement reaffirming the group's "longstanding commitment to market determined exchange rates," but didn't specifically condemn Japan or any other country for manipulating currency.

Before Cypriot banks get a bailout from the Eurogroup, private investigators will look into claims of money laundering. Cyprus is a notorious hotspot for illegal deposits by Russian oligarchs.

Investors will be focused on a series of speeches by policy makers today. Federal Reserve Board members Esther George, Charles Plosser, and Jeffrey Lacker, some of quantitative easing's biggest critics, will all be making speeches today. Dennis Lockhart will also be speaking in Spain. This evening, President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address.

Moody's cut its outlook for the G8 group of advanced economies. Its growth outlook for the group this year was reduced by 0.2 percentage points to 1.4%.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook will speak at a Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) conference where he might comment on intensifying calls for more shareholder payout and future products such as a smartwatch or a cheaper iPhone that could compete in markets such as China.

Lion's Gate (NYSE:LGF), reported earnings that exceeded analyst estimates. The studio behind The Hunger Games and other franchises earned $0.27 per share, beating expectations by $0.03. Revenue more than doubled to $743.6 million.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares fell after Bernstein analysts cut the stock to market perform from outperform.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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