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Pre-Market Primer: Zynga Inc Hires Microsoft Exec; Stocks Rally Before Factory Orders, Vehicle Sales

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Can Don Mattrick turn Zynga around?

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Stock futures are higher today ahead of reports on factory orders and motor vehicle sales while Greek officials meet with lenders to discuss the next aid tranche.

European shares are down today as Greek officials meet with the Troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and European Central Bank over its austerity plan. The international lenders could withhold the next 8.1 billion euro tranche of emergency aid from the country if Greece is not on track. Greece is behind on a civil service overhaul that should cost 15,000 workers their jobs through 2015. Even as it closed a popular public TV news station in June, lenders are very disappointed in Greece's progress in making reforms.

Earlier reports said that leaders had three days to reassure the Troika that it can deliver, but the EC denied this.

Portugal's bond yields jumped 10 basis points to 6.49% after the country's finance minister quit last night. Vitor Gaspar, who helped implement the country's fiscal austerity program, unexpectedly quit due to lack of support.

Japan's stocks had another strong rally today. The Nikkei 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:.NI225) rose 1.8%, breaking through the 14,000 milestone.

US stocks are poised to rack up gains today. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.17% at 14,908 this morning. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 0.20% to 1,609.90. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.29% to 2,925.50.

On today's economic calendar, factory orders are expected to show a 2% rise for May after increasing 1% in April and a 4.7% decline in March. Also, motor vehicle sales for June are likely to rise to 15.5 million from 15.3 million in the previous month and 14.3 million in June 2012. Domestic vehicles are are expected to make up 12.2 million of the total.

Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) shares rallied 4.9% this morning, extending yesterday's 10.4% rise when it confirmed rumors that it will hire Microsoft Corporation's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox head, Don Mattrick, as CEO. He replaces founder Mark Pincus, who will stay on as chairman with the majority of voting rights. Mattrick is credited with helping the Xbox become a profitable platform for Microsoft.

Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc (NASDAQ:ONXX) turned down an acquisition offer of $8.7 billion from Amgen, Inc (NASDAQ:AMGN) yesterday. Reuters reports that Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) are now vying for the cancer drug company.

Nielsen Hldg NV (NYSE:NLSN) rose 3.7% in early morning trading today on news that it will replace Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) in the S&P 500 index. Nielsen, which provides television ratings, will join the index on July 8.

New York Fed Chief William Dudley will deliver a speech at 12:30 this afternoon.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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