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Pre-Market Primer: Oracle Corporation Earnings on Deck; Global Markets Bleed on Fed Fears

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There's a sea of red in stocks, bonds, and commodities today.

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Global markets dove overnight and futures on US stock indices headed lower after the Federal Reserve hinted that it could end quantitative easing within the year and Chinese manufacturing data slumped.

Before the opening bell, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were down 0.64% at 14,951. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) sank 0.81% to 1,610.50 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures fell 0.89% to 2,930.00.

The government reported today that initial claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose sharply last week to 354,000, from 336,000. Economists expected just 340,000 claims.

Later this morning the June US manufacturing PMI number is due out. The index is expected to rise to 52.7 from 51.9, indicating that the sector's growth strengthened. Also out later today is existing May home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. Economists expect existing homes to have sold at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5 million, up from 4.97 in April.

Commodity futures also tumbled overnight. Gold fell over 5% to $1,303.50/ounce. WTI oil futures are down 1.6% at $96.69/barrel. The dollar strengthened against the euro, yen, and emerging market currencies. Most major stock indices in Europe and Asia declined sharply.

Markets were already shaken this morning on concerns that the Fed would pull back on its asset purchase program before the end of the year or possibly end it completely by mid-2014. In Chairman Bernanke's press conference, he emphasized a brightening economic picture, and said that the unemployment rate could fall to its 6.5% threshold by year-end. Despite the good fundamentals, the global sell-off emphasizes markets' addiction to the Fed's liquidity supports.

Against this backdrop, HSBC's flash Chinese manufacturing PMI unexpectedly fell to a nine-month low of 48.3 in June, down from 49.2 in May. Numbers below 50 signal that the sector is in decline.

Hongbin Qu, HSBC's chief China economist, said weak export demand was partly to blame. Exports decreased at a faster rate than in May.

"Manufacturing sectors are weighed down by deteriorating external demand, moderating domestic demand and rising destocking pressures," he said.

One bright spot was Markit's eurozone flash composite PMI, which showed that the manufacturing and service sectors' deterioration eased to the slowest rate of decline in over a year. The index rose to 47.7.

In company news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) lawyers will have their last chance to argue in the e-book antitrust case. Apple is accused of colluding with publishers to artificially inflate e-book prices. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) executives have already testified that the publishers forced their hand to adopt an agency model.

Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) could see heavy trading today ahead of its earnings release after the bell. Analysts expect the enterprise tech services company to report a EPS of $0.87 on $11.12 billion in sales. Oracle has struggled in recent years as customers increasingly prefer to buy software services through the cloud. Despite acquiring a number of cloud service companies, Oracle continues to struggle for market share.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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