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Pre-Market Primer: Stocks Slump as G20 Meets in Moscow

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Carl Icahn is at war with Ackman over Herbalife.

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Stock futures are trending downward today as investors ingest a busy economic calendar and the G20 nations meet in Moscow.

Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were down 0.10% at 13,937. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) declined 0.12% to 1,516.70 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures slipped 0.06% to 2,765.50.

Later this morning, the Federal Reserve will release its monthly index of industrial production for January. Production is expected to rise 0.3% for the second consecutive month. Manufacturing might have risen 0.2% and the capacity utilization rate is thought to have ticked up 0.1 percentage points to 78.9%.

A separate report from Reuter's and the University of Michigan is expected to show that their consumer sentiment index this month rose 1.2 points to 75.

Japanese stocks fell overnight as the yen strengthened on the dollar. Today, the a meeting of the G20 nations begins in Moscow. The finance ministers present will take a stance on "currency wars" in their area. The Russians already said that they will not single out Japan however, despite the aggressive anti-deflation policies that the country has adopted recently. The euro also fell on the dollar after Bundesbank head Jens Wiedmann said that the euro is not significantly overvalued and the European Central Bank will not cut rates to devalue the currency. ECB governor Mario Draghi also said that the current chatter about currency manipulation is "fruitless and self-defeating." Brazil's Guido Mantega said that his country will try to prevent too much appreciation of its currency.

UK retail sales fell 0.6% in January after rising 0.3% in December. Economists expected a 0.5% rise last month. The poor sales figures might portend that the country's economy will shrink in the first quarter -- putting the UK in a triple-dip recession, officially. One mitigating factor is a snowstorm that might have had a negative impact on sales.

The eurozone's trade surplus widened to 11.7 billion euros in December as demand for imports fell faster than exports. This figure missed expectations of 13.1 billion euros, however.

Japanese industrial production rose 2.4% on a monthly basis in December, a slightly smaller increase than in November.

EBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) said that it will bring 450 jobs to Ireland, where the official corporate tax rate is less than half that of the United States.

CBS (NYSE:CBS) shares fell 1.82% after reporting income and sales that missed Wall Street's expectations. The media company announced $0.60 per share of earnings on $3.7 billion in revenue. CBS also announced that it will buy back $1 billion in shares.

Kraft Foods (NASDAQ:KRFT) raised its profit forecast for 2013 to $2.75 per share from $2.60. Shares declined about 1% in the pre-market however.

Shares of Herbalife (NYSE:HLF), the multi-level marketer and target of Bill Ackman's short, shot up 18% in after-hours trading after Carl Icahn disclosed that he took a 13% stake in the company.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) could be active today after legislators introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate. The law would enable states to collect taxes on online transactions. Amazon officially endorses the federal measure, but sales tax could narrow the retailer's price advantage over brick-and-mortar stores that so often find themselves being used as showrooms for online purchases.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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