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Pre-Market: Facebook, Visa Earnings Shine; US GDP Beats Expectations


Investors cheered Google's sale of Motorola to Lenovo.

Stocks rose this morning as a better-than-expected US GDP report as well as upbeat earnings from Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Visa Inc (NYSE:V) lifted the mood on Wall Street.

Ahead of the opening bell, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) were up 0.33% at 15,750. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.30% to 1,776.50 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.46% to 3,489.00.

Facebook shares rose 17.22% after reporting that mobile ad revenue for the December 2013 quarter came in much higher than expected. Net profit jumped to $523 million from $64 million a year ago. Earnings per share of $0.31 beat consensus estimates by $0.04. Mobile ad revenue quadrupled, giving Facebook an edge in the fast-growing business that it had previously struggled to monetize. Facebook did not present any data to counter reports that teenagers are abandoning the service for alternatives like Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Snapchat.

Visa shares rose 3.2% in pre-market trading after the payments processor reported earnings. Earnings per share of $2.20 beat estimates by $0.04. Visa reported that payment volumes increased by 13% year-over-year to $1.1 trillion. The strong US dollar negatively affected Visa's growth rate, however.

United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS), a proxy company for global business activity, reported earnings that missed expectations. EPS came in at $1.25 for the quarter, falling short by $0.02. Revenue of $14.97 billion also missed estimates. The package delivery company's performance was weighed down by a rush of last-minute holiday shopping that led to delays on the network. The company said that it expects to earn between $5.05 and $5.30 per share in 2014, which also disappointed industry analysts. Despite the downbeat report, UPS shares were up 0.65% in the pre-market.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares were up 2.4% after announcing late yesterday that it has sold its Motorola Mobility unit to Lenovo Group Limited (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) for $2.91 billion. In 2011, Google bought the struggling hardware company for $12.5 billion. At the time, Google said that it aimed to acquire the company's patents, which it will keep in the deal with Lenovo. Since the acquisition, Motorola Mobility has been a loss leader for Google. The Chinese company plans to use the Motorola brand to gain a foothold in the US smartphone market. In this afternoon's earnings call, Google might give analysts more details on its rationale for the sale.

Earnings reports from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), 3M (NYSE:MMM), and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) are still ahead today.

In economics news, weekly jobless claims came in higher than expected last week. A total of 348,000 workers filed for benefits, up 19,000 from the week earlier.

American GDP also came in better than expected. The US economy grew by 3.2% in the December 2013 quarter, compared with forecasts of 3% growth.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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