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Pre-Market Primer: Overseas Reports Ease Decline in Stocks, but Jobless Claims Disappoint

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Strong PMI from China and Europe made the global picture brighter.

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After the Federal Reserve delivered nothing but sustained uncertainty in its August meeting minutes, data from overseas helped ease equities' decline.

Weekly claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose by 13,000 to 336,000 last week. Economists expected a more modest rise to 329,000. The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure of the job market's health, fell by 2,750 to 330,500.

Before the opening bell, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.22% to 14,880 while futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.29% to 1,641.30. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.52% to 3,078.50. US 10-year Treasury yields rose another two basis points to 2.91%.

The HSBC flash China purchasing managers' index went from contraction to expansion in August. The index, which polls more small and medium-sized firms than its government counterpart, rose to 50.1 from 47.7 in July. Readings above 50 signal expansion, and anything below that threshold indicates negative growth.

German PMI beat expectations with a two-year high of 52 for manufacturing and 52.4 for services. Composite PMI was 53.4. The eurozone as a whole also beat forecasts with a composite reading of 51.7 as manufacturing rose to 51.3 and services to 51.

The initial PMI reading in France was disappointing, however. French composite PMI fell 0.9 points to a two-month low of 47.9 as manufacturing fell to 49.7 and services sank to 47.7. Economists forecasted that manufacturing would increase and services decline more slowly.

Still more US data will come after trading hours commence. The US manufacturing flash PMI is expected to rise 0.3 points to 53.5 this month. Economists also forecast that the Federal Housing Finance Agency will report that home prices rose 0.6% in June.

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve's policy committee released meeting minutes in which the members agreed to scaling back its $85 billion monthly quantitative easing program by the end of the year, but declined to say with any certainty when that might be. The releases for the next several Fed meetings and individual member speeches will be closely watched.

Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) reported a wider loss in the second quarter and missed analyst estimates. The retailer lost $1.46 per share after a $1.06 loss a year ago. Revenue fell to $8.87 billion from $9 billion. The company blamed the sales decline on having fewer K-Mart and Sears stores open during the quarter. Comparable store sales still declined 2.1%.

Shares of Sears Holdings were down 7.35% in pre-market trading.

Yesterday, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) booked worse-than-expected earnings per share of $0.86 on $27.2 billion in revenue. Shares of the company dropped 7.75% in after-hours trading. PC sales and enterprise hardware were particularly poor. Sales at every division fell.

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) announced that it is cutting 2,323 jobs from its mortgage unit, which is slumping due to weak demand for refinancing services.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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