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Pre-Market Primer: Dow Approaches Record Open; Service Sector Data on Tap


A major investor is dumping JC Penney.

Stocks are set to break records today as investors await key non-manufacturing data.

Before the opening bell, stock index futures are sinking. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.21% at 14,147, indicating that the index might open at an all-time high today. Yesterday was the second-highest close on record. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) climbed 0.24% to 1,529.30 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.41% to 2,771.50. Chinese stocks rebounded overnight after Monday's slump. European indices rose ahead of the European Central Bank meeting later this week, when it might recommend cutting interest rates.

At 10:00 a.m. EST, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index will come out. The report is expected to show that the economy continued to grow in February. This indicator is closely watched, as the non-manufacturing sector accounts for all but 10% of the economy.

The same indicator for the eurozone showed that the area continues to shrink. As a whole, the area's service sector PMI was 47.9 in February, down from 48.6. Italy sank to 43.6. The data also showed further bifurcation of the eurozone's two largest economies. France's service sector showed the second-largest contraction of 43.7, up 0.1 points from January. Germany still had robust growth at 54.7, down from 55.7 in January. (Readings below the 50 threshold signal contraction, numbers over 50 mean growth in the sector.)

The UK service sector grew at the fastest pace in five months, risint to 51.8 from 51.5. This data assuaged fears that Britain might fall into a triple-dip recession.

Retail sales in the region improved, however. Sales rose 1.2% in January after a 0.8% drop in December 2012, crushing estimates.

China gave itself a modest growth target of 7.5% for this year at the National People's Congress. The Finance Ministry will increase the budget deficit to 1.2 trillion renminbi to boost social programs. According to the HSBC services PMI, the non-manufacturing sector's growth in the country cooled to 52.1 last month from 54 in January.

JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) shares dropped 3.64% in the pre-market on reports that Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE:VNO) is going to sell 10 million shares of the troubled retailer for $16.40 to$16.60 per share, less than the price it purchased the shares at.

American Apparel (NYSEAMEX:APP) jumped nearly 15% in pre-market trading after forecasting better sales for this year than analysts expected.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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