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Pre-Market Primer: US Trade Deficit Narrows; LinkedIn Beats the Street

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The US and EU are negotiating a major trade deal right now.

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Stocks sank in the pre-market after global trade balance data showed diverging trends for major economies.

The US trade deficit narrowed by more than expected in December 2012. The world's biggest economy imported $38.5 billion more than it exported. Economists expected a drop to $46 billion from $48.7 billion in November as overseas demand drove exports.

Index futures this morning were mixed after yesterday's declines. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are down 0.05% at 13,891. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 0.01% to 1,505.20 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.14% to 2,745.75.

Another report from the government, due out at 10:00 a.m. today, is expected to show that wholesale inventories rose 0.4% in December after a 0.6% gain in November.

LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) rallied 11.6% in the pre-market after releasing an earnings statement that blew past expectations. Earnings per share hit $0.35 as sales rose 81% to $303.6 million. Subscriptions, target solutions, and advertising all drove sales higher.

Yesterday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) responded to hedge fund manager David Einhorn's suggestion that it share more of its $137 billion cashpile with shareholders. Though Apple is "in active discussions about returning additional cash to shareholders" it doesn't seem like the company will take Einhorn's suggestion that it issue preferred shares.

China reported more signs that it is pulling out from 2012's weak period. Exports rose 25% in January from the year before, beating estimates of a 17% increase. Demand for imports was also strong. China imported 28.8% more on a yearly basis. Consumer prices in China rose 2% on a yearly basis.

Japan's current account deficit widened to 264 billion yen in December from 222.4 billion in November. Experts forecast a drop. For the full year, the country's current account surplus was the smallest in 28 years.

Finance Minister and former Prime Minister Taro Aso said that the yen's recent fall has been to swift. The yen rose 1.3% against the dollar on his comments.

German exports rose 0.3% between November and December. Imports unexpectedly fell 1.3%. For the full year, the country's trade surplus was a five-year high, the second highest in over 60 years.

This morning, European leaders are negotiating an important new free trade deal with the United States. At present, the Europeans have already given their support for the comprehensive agreement, but the UK might refuse to sign because of the payments ceiling.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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