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Pre-Market Primer: Citigroup Inc Beats on Earnings; Retail Sales Unexpectedly Slow

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The battery might not be to blame for the recent Boeing Dreamliner fire.

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Stocks are slightly higher this morning after another major financial company reported better lending conditions and retail sales data disappointed.

Retail sales in the United States grew by just 0.4% last month after rising 0.6% in May. Excluding autos and gas, sales actually fell 0.1%. Economists estimated that June consumer sales would grow 0.9%, or 0.6% excluding automobiles.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) was the third American mega-bank to beat earnings expectations in the second quarter. Excluding special items, it earned $1.25 per share on $20.48 billion in revenue, a 26% rise in profit from a year ago. Analysts expected the bank to earn $1.18 per share. Citigroup reported lower mortgage loan losses. Shares were up 1.5% in pre-market trading.

Boeing (NYSE:BA) shares recovered 1.60% this morning after plunging 4.69% on Friday. Billions were subtracted from the aerospace company's market value after another fire struck the 787 Dreamliner. In this case, however, preliminary investigations do not point to issues with the battery.

Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT) lowered the price of the Surface RT, its first-ever computer, by nearly 30%, according to Bloomberg. The cheapest version costs $350, down from $499. The tablet/laptop hybrid runs Windows RT, which doesn't support software that runs on earlier versions of Windows. In the first six months on the market, 900,000 units were sold.

Chinese stocks rallied after the government reported that the economy grew by 7.5% in the second quarter of this year, matching expectations and the People's Bank of China's official growth target. However, this was slower growth than the first quarter's 7.7% increase. China is also not accustomed to hitting its growth target on the nose. Chinese investors could be hoping for more supportive fiscal and monetary policy. Last week, China's finance minister let slip that the government is prepared to tolerate growth as slow as 6.5%.

China's industrial production slowed as well in June. On a yearly basis, it grew 8.9%, missing expectations. Retail sales were strong however. Receipts were 13.3% higher from last year.

European stocks also climbed this morning. Spain was rocked today after a newspaper published text messages that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sent to the former finance minister connecting him to a slush fund to make political payoffs. The opposition party is calling for Rajoy to resign.

US stocks are poised to book a third straight day of gains this morning. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.16% to 15,394 while futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.13% to 1,672.40 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.18% to 3,067.50.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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