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Pre-Market Primer: Icahn Bullish on Apple Inc.; Jobless Claims Drop to Lowest Level Since 2006


Facebook is charging ahead, thanks to mobile engagement.

US stocks are relatively flat this morning as bad data came out of Europe and jobless claims plummeted.

Initial jobless claims fell to the lowest level since 2006. The Department of Labor counts 292,000 claims last week, down from 323,000 in the previous week. Economists expected claims to rise to 330,000.

Asian and European indices were mostly higher today despite some ugly industrial data that throws the European recovery narrative into question. Eurozone industrial production unexpectedly contracted in July, falling 1.5% monthly. Economists expected production to rise 0.3%. Output fell 2.1% from the year earlier.

Greek unemployment also rose to an all-time high of 27.9% in June; 58.8% of Greeks under 25 are unemployed. Oxfam International, the global charity best known for delivering aid to less developed countries, issued a statement today warning that austerity policies in Europe are exacerbating the cycle of poverty that puts countries like Greece in a "terrible state."

"These policies were a failure: a medicine that sought to cure the disease by killing the patient," the organization said, referring to similar austerity policies imposed on other countries in the '80s and '90s. "They cannot be allowed to happen again."

US stock index futures were mostly just slightly higher before the opening bell. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.01% at 15,331 while futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 0.02% to 1,688.40. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.09% to 3,181.50.

The likelihood of a strike on Syria is still uncertain. Today, Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart in Geneva to discuss a solution to the problem. Gold prices fell sharply today.

After Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) share price fell 5.44% yesterday, it is rebounding now that Carl Icahn made bullish statements on the company. The famous investor said on CNBC that he purchased shares on the dip, calling the move a "no-brainer." Apple shares were up 1% in pre-market trading.

(See also: Apple Is the Least Worst, and That's Why It's the Best.)

Though Apple is about to release a competing product very soon, Pandora (NYSE:P) shares surged 6.45% in the pre-market after naming Brian McAndrews, a veteran of online ad platform aQuantive, as CEO. His former company was acquired by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares rallied to an all-time high yesterday and extended gains this morning. Yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that engagement on Facebook is stronger on mobile than on PCs. The social network accounts for one-fifth of time spent on mobile devices.

Due to conservative opposition to Obamacare, Republicans in the House of Representatives postponed a vote yesterday that would allow the government to function through December. The government has until mid-October to raise the debt ceiling and prevent another crisis of confidence.

(See also: Will Your Premiums Rise Under Obamacare? It Depends on Where You Live.)

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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