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Pre-Market: Netflix Pays Comcast for Better Connections; Nokia to Debut Android Phones


The Netflix-Comcast agreement could pave the way for more pay-to-play deals with cable providers.

US stock futures were slightly higher this morning despite a fall in Asian stocks which weighed on investor sentiment.

Before the opening bell, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.21% to 16,126. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures climbed by 0.26% to 1,839.10. Futures on the Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 0.25% to 3,673.50. No major economic indicators will be released today, but key data points such as GDP, durable goods orders, and consumer confidence will come out later this week. On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee will hear testimony from Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares dropped after the streaming video company struck a landmark deal paying for better access to customers' televisions. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) said on Sunday that Netflix has agreed to pay it for more "direct" access to its consumers, according to numerous reports. The two companies announced a vague partnership yesterday, provoking speculation. Netflix customers have reported slower speed and a lack of streaming reliability in recent months. Netflix will pay millions for Comcast to establish more reliable connections. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) already pay Comcast for privileged access, but Netflix has held out. It also underscores the power of Comcast, the largest cable operator, which just closed a deal to purchase the second largest, Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC). It could also open the door for a similar deal with other cable providers such as Verizon (NYSE:VZ). Investors punished Netflix, sending shares down 1.5% overnight. Comcast shares were up 1.5%.

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) CEO Sheldon Adelson said that his gambling company would spend "whatever it takes" to build casinos in Japan. Several Japanese companies are willing to come in as equity partners, but Adelson would rather go it alone because those companies "can't keep it up." The gaming company's shares rose 1.12% in pre-market trading.

The Mobile World Congress in Spain kicks off today. Nokia (NYSE:NOK) debuted three low-cost phones with the Android operating system just before it folds into Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The Nokia phones will still keep Microsoft services such as Skype and the look and feel of Windows Phone. The phones will be available in China later this year.

Housing prices cooled in China in January, raising fears of a property bubble popping. The average price of a home rose 9% year-over-year, compared with a 9.2% gain in December 2013. This was the first slowdown in 12 months. Chinese media said that some banks have sharply pulled back on lending to builders and related industries. Concerns of a property crash sent the Shanghai CSI 300 Index (SHA:000300) down 2.2%.

Ukrainian stocks surged today, but the new interim government is pleading the international community for $35 billion in financial aid to avoid default after deposing president Viktor Yanukovych.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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