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Pre-Market Primer: Earnings Season Starts Well; Slovenia Takes Euro Crisis Spotlight


JC Penney also ousted Ron Johnson, replacing him with the old boss.

Stocks are up slightly this morning as investors digest corporate earnings news and Europe gets a fresh stage for the region's prolonged financial crisis.

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) kicked off earnings season yesterday showing a 58% rise in net profit. The company earned $0.11 per share, $0.03 over Wall Street's expectations. Revenues fell short of forecasts, however. The company predicts that global demand for aluminum will rise 7% this year.

JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) shares surged after hours yesterday after it came out that Ron Johnson, the former Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail chief that was handpicked by activist shareholder Bill Ackman to turn around the troubled company, has been ousted as CEO. Johnson, who championed a policy of no sales, which bewildered customers, and stores-within-stores for certain brands, presided over a continued decline in sales, profits, and market share. Mike Ullman, Johnson's predecessor, will take over as CEO. In pre-market trading this morning, JC Penney shares are down 6.36%

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and 16 other companies made an anti-trust complaint against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in Europe over mobile Internet use. They claim that it is unfair for Google to give away its Android operating system to handset manufacturers. The group's lawyer says that Android is a "Trojan horse to deceive partners, monopolize the marketplace, and control consumer data."

Asian markets were mostly higher despite a disconcerting report on Chinese inflation. CPI in the country fell to a 2.1% yearly rate last month, down from 3.2% in February. Food prices, especially pork, led to the slower inflation.

European stocks are also rallying today. German imports unexpectedly fell in February. Demand for foreign goods fell 3.8% on a monthly basis after rising 3.3% in January. Exports from the country also sank 1.5%. Germany's trade deficit widened to 16.8 billion euros.

Fresh after the Cypriot fiasco, Europe is now worried that Slovenia will be the next crisis. Today, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that Slovenia risks "a severe banking crisis, driven by excessive risk-taking, weak corporate governance of state-owned banks, and insufficiently effective supervision tools." The OECD also said that bailing out Slovenia's banks will cost much more than initially thought.

Britain's trade deficit widened as exports fell by 2.8% and imports rose 0.3% in February.

In US economics, February wholesale trade is expected to show that inventories rose 0.5% over January. The indicator is due out at 10:00 a.m. Stocks are up slightly in pre-market trading. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures gained 0.06% at 14,571. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.18% to 1,562.00 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.31% to 2,789.50.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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