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Pre-Market Primer: US Economy Contracts Slightly; Private Sector Job Growth Exceeds Expectations


Mixed signals from economic indicators today.

After nearing all-time highs yesterday, stock futures are up slightly on a day packed with economic headlines.

The US economy shrank by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the government's preliminary estimate. Though growth was expected to be weaker, about 1.1% after growing 3.1% in the third quarter, this contraction was not expected. GDP estimates will be revised twice between now and March.

In a preview for the big jobs report on Friday, ADP, a major payroll processor, estimated that the US private sector added 192,000 jobs in January. This figure exceeded expectations of 173,000, but December's 215,000 was revised down to 185,000. Small businesses did the lion's share of hiring. Construction jobs increased by 15,000.

Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were flat at 13,908 and S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures are down 0.05% to 1,504.30. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.07% to 2,744.75.

The Federal Reserve will conclude its Federal Open Market Committee meeting today. At 2:15 p.m. EST, the Fed will release a statement to the press on its policy decisions. It is likely to continue its asset-purchasing program at the same rate.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shares rose 8.35% to an all-time high of $282.35 after the company reported that sales rose 22% in the last three months of 2012. The online retailer's operating margin widened to 5%, beating expectations. Revenue, earnings, and profit guidance were below estimates, however.

Boeing (NYSE:BA) beat profit estimates with earnings per share of $1.46 on $22.3 billion in revenue. Guidance for the year is on the lower end of estimates at $5.00-$5.20 per share. Shares rose 1.03% in the pre-market. The earnings call should provide some insight into the Dreamliner batteries exploding.

Judge Lucy Koh gave Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) a win in its patent war with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). She ruled that Samsung did not willfully infringe on Apple's design patents. The $1.05 billion ruling against the Korean company stands, but if this trial went in Apple's favor, Samsung could have been on the hook for much more.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) may see heavy trading today as it reports earnings after the closing bell.

Asian markets rallied overnight, and European shares are negative. The euro rose to a 14-month high of $1.3544 on data that regional banks are leaning less on the European Central Bank for financing.

Spain's recession deepened by more than its central bank expected. The country's GDP fell by 0.7% in the fourth quarter. On a yearly basis, the economy shrank by 1.8%. Retail sales in the country fell 10% in December. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told Parliament that he will push new stimulus measures such as tax breaks for entrepreneurs.

The European Commission's measure of economic confidence across the region rose to 89.2 from 87.8 in December.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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