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Pre-Market Primer: Apple Inc. to Unveil New Products; Obama Considers Alternative to War

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Microsoft investors are also looking for a turnaround expert to replace Steve Ballmer.

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Stock futures rose this morning on hope that the US will avoid attacking Syria, and China posted strong industrial data.

Secretary of State John Kerry's off-the-cuff comment that Syria could avert a military strike if it hands over its chemical weapons to the international community turned into a full-fleged alternative. Russia eagerly promoted the idea that would shield its ally from Western strikes. Yesterday, President Obama tentatively got behind it before he faces a reluctant Senate vote on the war, but he expressed skepticism that Syria would follow through.

The president didn't find the support that he expected from allies at the G20 meeting last week, and a recent WSJ/NBC poll shows that only 33% of Americans approve of the war. Obama will make a prime-time address to the nation on the issue tonight.

As the president backs away from war, safe-haven assets are falling. Spot gold fell 1.12% to $1,371.10/ounce and WTI oil futures fell 0.92% to $108.51/barrel.

US stocks had their best day in two months yesterday. Before the opening bell, stock index futures extended yesterday's gains. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.57% to 15,121 while futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.62% to 1,679.50. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.66% to 3,185.75.

Later this morning, the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for July will be released. Economists expect this report to count 3.9275 million, only slightly changed from June.

Asian and European stocks posted strong gains today. China reported that industrial output sped up in August. Production rose 10.4% year-over-year from 9.7% in July. Retail sales rose 13.4% from a year ago.

Italy's recession was deeper than initially thought. Italian GDP for the second quarter was revised down to a 0.3% contraction from 0.2%.

The big company news today will come from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which will unveil new products today. It has been widely reported that a second, cheaper iPhone is in the works. A cheaper handset could help Apple push into emerging markets. An update to the flagship iPhone is also possible. The indefatigable Apple rumor mill says that it might include a fingerprint scanner. Apple is also likely to release iOS7, a refresh of its mobile operating system.

Reuters reported today that top investors in Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) want to replace CEO Steve Ballmer with a turnaround expert such as Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Alan Mulally, who was rumored to be looking for another high-profile post. Mulally is known for saving Ford from the brink when he took the CEO job in 2006. Another potential candidate would be Computer Sciences Corp's (NYSE:CSC) Mike Lawrie.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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