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Pre-Market Primer: Jobless Claims Miss by a Long Shot; Japan Brings Out the Punchbowl


Two previews of tomorrow's jobs report disappointed.

Stock futures rose this morning as jobless claims missed expectations and the Bank of Japan embarked on an ambitious quantitative easing program.

Weekly claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose to 385,000 from last week's 357,000. Economists forecast just 350,000 claims last week.

This disappointing labor market indicator comes after yesterday's weak ADP payrolls data, which doesn't improve the outlook for tomorrow's jobs report.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that in March, mass layoffs affected only 49,255 workers, down from 55,356 in February.

Stocks took a sharp hit yesterday after the ADP payroll report came in soft. Before the opening bell, indices are making rebounds. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.039% at 14,544. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.46% to 1,555.70 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.36% to 2,785.25. Asian and European equities also made gains today.

Central bank actions will take center stage today. The Bank of Japan took the lead, with incoming governor Haruhiko Kuroda announcing a massive quantitative easing program that will double the BOJ's holdings of government bonds over two years. The bank aims for 2% inflation. The yen fell to 2.55% to 95.41to the dollar and the Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:.NI225) rallied 2.20%.

Yesterday, San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said that the Fed will wind down quantitative easing earlier than expected.

"I expect we will meet the test for substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market by this summer. If that happens we could start tapering our purchases then," he said in a speech.

The Bank of England and the European Central Bank both left interest rates and quantitative easing levels unchanged.

European services PMI numbers for March matched the grim manufacturing figures released earlier this week. The eurozone as a whole sank to 46.5 from 47.9. (Readings below 50 signal overall contraction.) Germany managed to squeak into positive territory with 50.9, down sharply from February' s 54.7. France sank to a 49-month low of 41.3 from 43.7.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) will showcase a new cell phone operating system that prominently features the social network. The phone operating system is reportedly a redesign of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and the handset is made by Taiwan's HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).

Samsung (KRX:005930) cut a deal with Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), allowing the Korean company to set up 1400 Samsung Experience Shops within Best Buy stores. This move is intended to give Samsung greater presence in the country and increase brand recognition.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares are off 0.70% after Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) cut its rating on the stock to neutral from buy due to the lack of response to the new Windows 8 operating system.

A former Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) trader named Michael Taylor pleaded guilty to hiding an unauthorized $8.3 billion position on S&P 500 futures contracts in 2007. The bank lost $118 million due to his position. As he plead guilty to one count of wire fraud, he said that he took the risk to increase his performance-based compensation. "took a count for wire fraud, took the risk"..should it be "plead guilty to one count of.."

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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