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Pre-Market Primer: Markets Surge on Bernanke's Dovish Comments; Jobless Claims Spike

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Claims for unemployment could be pushed up by seasonal auto layoffs.

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Stocks are set to rally today after global markets surged on dovish comments from Ben Bernanke and the spike of US jobless claims.

The government reported today that initial claims for unemployment insurance spiked by 16,000 last week to 360,000. This is far more than economists expected, but this indicator might have been affected by seasonal auto factory retooling, which is often reflected in the weekly number despite seasonal adjustments. June import prices rose 0.2% year-over-year and export prices rose 0.8%.

Global markets staged a huge rally after Ben Bernanke reassured the world that the dreaded "taper" isn't coming any time soon. He said that the official unemployment count is misleadingly optimistic and "highly accomodative monetary policy for the foreseeable future is what's needed."

After his comments, the dollar weakened against the yen and euro. The Shanghai CSI 300 (SHA:000300) index gained 4.61%, just one day after China posted concerning trade data. Japan's Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:.NI225) was volatile after the Bank of Japan cut its GDP and inflation outlook but kept its supportive monetary policy in place with the key rate at zero-0.1%. Asset purchasing will continue at the pace of 60-70 trillion yen per year.

European shares are all rallying strongly with the exception of Portugal's PSI 20 (INDEXEURO:PSI20), where political turmoil is taking its toll. The index dropped 1.6% as President Silva said that early elections are in order.

US stock futures are higher this morning after yesterday's mixed close. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.89% to 15,378 while futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 1.03% to 1,665.50 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.95% to 3,024.75. Gold also rallied 2.73%

In corporate news, PC market researcher Gartner (NYSE:IT) reported that PC shipments fell for the fifth straight quarter. Total worldwide shipments are down 10.9% to 76 million, despite the slower decline in US sales. With 16.7% market share in the second quarter, Lenovo (HKG:0992) retook the top spot from Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) which had 16.3%. Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) was third with 11.8% share. The analysts said that even in emerging markets countries, inexpensive tablets are supplanting traditional PCs as the primary computing device. Just as they are in mature markets, consumers are delaying PC purchases in favor of second-screen devices.

Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM) earnings fell in the second quarter as China sales continued to fall; KFC restaurants are associated with avian flu. Revenue fell 8.3% to $2.9 billion and net profit fell 15% to $281 million, trailing estimates.

StatCounter, a Web analytics firm, reported today that Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) has surpassed Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in mobile Web usage. Samsung users accounted for 25.47% of all mobile Web traffic worldwide.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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