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Pre-Market Primer: AT&T Eyeing Vodafone; Stocks Rise on Reduced War Fears

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Japan's Abenomics seems to be working, if slowly.

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Stocks were trading higher this morning as fears of an imminent invasion of Syria abated after the UK Parliament voted against using force in Syria.

The US still has not made a decision on whether to attack. The New York Times reported today that America is prepared to do so despite waning international support. According to Le Monde, French President Francois Hollande reportedly said that France may strike as early as Wednesday. Britain's Parliament voted against action in a preliminary vote yesterday, and it will decide whether to get involved at all next week.

As the threat of an imminent military strike ebbed, fear trades such as gold and oil declined today. US stock futures are higher this morning, but likely to record a loss for the week. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.13% to 14,853 while futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.20% to 1,639.90. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.22% to 3,096.25.

Investors also have a rash of global economic reports to interpret today.

US personal income and consumer spending both rose 0.1% in July. Later this morning, economists expect to see that final reading of the August consumer sentiment index remains unchanged from the preliminary reading of 80.

Japan just released some encouraging data that suggests that Abenomics is on track. The most important point in the batch was CPI, which is still tame despite radical anti-deflation measures. Consumer prices were up 0.7% from a year earlier, the steepest rise since Nov. 2008. However, excluding rising food and energy, prices actually fell 0.1%. The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 3.8% from 3.9%. July industrial production rose 0.2% after a 3.6% yearly decline in June, missing estimates of a 1.9% rise. Manufacturing PMI rose to 52.2 from 50.7. PMI readings over 50 signal expansion in the sector. Household spending in July was softer than expected, rising 0.1% after falling 0.4% in June.

Eurozone consumer prices for August rose 1.3% year-over-year and the EU Commission's Economic Sentiment Index rose 2.7 points to 95.2. Italy's unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points in July to 12.1%, matching the eurozone-wide rate, which was flat from June. German retail sales fell 1.4% between June and July, missing estimates of a 0.5% rise.

As Vodafone (NYSE:VOD) prepares to sell its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon (NYSE:VZ), reports are surfacing that AT&T (NYSE:T) is interested in evaluating Vodafone as an acquisition. Bloomberg reports that AT&T would be less interested in Vodafone if it expands into fixed-line or cable businesses.

General Electric (NYSE:GE) is reportedly interested in spinning off GE Capital's consumer lending business. GE provides financing options such as store-branded credit cards for Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and has 55 million customers.

Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) shares rose 8.75% in after-hours trading after it reported better-than-expected earnings yesterday as sales rose 31%. Adjusted EPS was $0.09 on revenue of $957.1 million.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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