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Pre-Market: What to Expect From Today's Apple iPad Event; September Job Gains Disappoint

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The tablet market is getting very crowded.

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Stocks are higher as tech companies release new products and the belated September jobs numbers disappointed.

The US added just 148,000 jobs in September, missing consensus estimates of 180,000. The unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.2% from 7.3% though the participation rate was unchanged at 63.2%. The report, which was delayed for weeks due to the government shutdown, said that previous months were slightly better than originally reported. July's payroll change was revised down to 89,000 from 104,000, but the August numbers were revised up to 193,000 from 169,000.

In the month leading up to the federal shutdown, government employment increased by 22,000. The public sector was the biggest contributor to September job gains. As should be expected at the end of summer, leisure and hospitality was the biggest laggard, losing 13,000 jobs.

Just before the data release, US stock index futures were mostly higher this morning. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.18% at 15,349.00. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 0.04% to 1,739.70, extending yesterday's record high. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.16% to 3,359.50.

In earnings news, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares jumped 9.5% in after-hours trading after the company reported better-than-expected performance last quarter. Revenue was up 22% to $1.1 billion and earnings per share of $0.52 beat the Street. Subscriber growth was helped by the original show Orange Is the New Black. Netflix now has 40 million US subscribers, but CEO Reed Hastings says that the company is really aiming to overtake HBO's 114 million count. Since the start of the year, Netflix shares have risen 320%.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will make its second big product announcement of the fall today. The rumor mill expects a refresh of the flagship iPad with a new processor, a thinner bezel, and slimmer body. The iPad Mini is probably going to get an upgrade to the "retina" quality display that makes it impossible to see individual pixels with normal viewing. Also for the keyboard-bound, Apple is likely to announce the release date for the newest update for OSX, the desktop operating system. It might also unveil new MacBook Pro laptops with the same efficient Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Haswell processors that give the newest MacBook Air all-day battery life. Finally, for the real power users, we might get a release date for the insanely powerful Mac Pro desktop computers.

Meanwhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will release its new Surface tablets. Nokia (NASDAQ:NOK), also introduced its first tablet, which runs Windows 8 and resembles its Lumia smartphone line. The Finnish smartphone maker also unveiled two 'phablet'-sized smartphones today at an event in Abu Dhabi.

E I Du Pont De Nemours and Co (NYSE:DD), a Dow component, beat earnings estimates with EPS of $0.45, but $7.73 billion in revenue trailed estimates.

ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH) reported that runaway sales of the newest iPhone boosted its profit by 36% to 92.6 million pounds as revenue rose 27% to 184 million pounds, beating estimates on both top and bottom lines. The British company designs microchips that power nearly all smartphones and tablets, including those in Apple and Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) products. Shares fell more than 1% however, as royalty income rose by less than anticipated.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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