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Pre-Market Primer: Stocks Extend Winning Streak as Jobless Claims Continue to Fall

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The S&P might hit its record today.

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Stocks are set to advance again today as weekly jobless claims unexpectedly dropped and initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 8,000 to 332,000 last week. Economists expected claims to rise to 350,000. The government also reported that wholesale prices rose by 0.7% in February, exceeding estimates by a tenth of a percentage point. The index, a preview of tomorrow's consumer price index, rose just 0.2% in January.

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) extended its winning streak yesterday, and futures are up 0.12% at 14,415 before the opening bell. After closing just 11 points shy of a record, futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.23% to 1,553.50. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.33% to 2,802.75.

European stocks rallied overnight as European Union leaders began a two-day summit in Brussels to debate austerity policies. The meeting is likely to host tensions between France and Germany. French President Francois Hollande said that his country's budget deficit will exceed the EU ceiling of 3% this year. Germany, on the other hand, announced that it will cut 2014 spending by 5 billion euros to 300 billion euros and balance its budget the year after.

Though the summit will not directly address the issue of Cyprus' coming bailout, the Eurogroup of finance ministers will hold talks on that separately tomorrow.

Spain is taking advantage of the recent decline in its bond yields. Today it held an unscheduled debt auction, where it sold 134 million euros of bonds that will mature in 2029 with an average yield of 5.22%, down from 5.78% in a similar sale last month. Spain's 10-year debt fetches a yield of 4.85% on the open market.

Greek unemployment worsened to a new high of 26% in the final quarter of 2012 from 24.8% in the previous quarter. Among Greeks under 25, 57.8% are jobless.

Japan's Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:.NI225) rose 1.1% after the lower house of the Diet approved Haruhiko Kuroda as Bank of Japan governor. Tomorrow, the upper house will probably approve Kuroda and his deputies.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) shares rose 2.8% in the pre-market, extending yesterday's 8.15% increase. Yesterday, the Canadian smartphone company reported that an unidentified "established partner" ordered 1 million new BlackBerry 10 handsets.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shares fell 1.85% after JPMorgan Chase analysts downgraded the company to neutral from overweight.

Today, Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) will unveil its newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, at a ceremony in New York. The phone is rumored to have a 5-inch screen and eye-tracking technology. The company expects to sell 10 million units in the first month of sales.

The Securities and Exchange Commission decided that big banks do not have to hold shareholder votes on whether they are too big. The letter, which was addressed to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) in response to proposals from investors such as the AFL-CIO, who argued that the London Whale loss was proof that JPMorgan and others have gotten too big to effectively manage. The SEC said that the proposals were "vague and indefinite" and the banks do not have to acknowledge the proxy measures.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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