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Pre-Market Primer: Stocks Tank After Apple Earnings; Eurozone Decline Slows

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Initial jobless claims and Microsoft earnings are on tap for today.

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Stocks were mostly lower Thursday morning after the world's most valuable company disappointed on earnings.

Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures rose 0.05% to 13,726. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures dropped 0.21% to 1,487.20. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures sank 1.26% to 2,724.25.

The Nasdaq index was particularly hard hit by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) after-hours fall. Apple unexpectedly booked higher profits, but fell short on margins, and outlook. Boosted by 48 million iPhone sales,revenue for the company's first fiscal quarter rose 18% from the year earlier to $54.5 billion. Profit fell to $13.1 billion or $13.87 per share. Revenue for the current quarter is expected to rise to $41-43 billion.

Apple shares slid 8.95 to $468, breaking the $500 mark for the first time since nearly a year ago.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares soared 36% to $140.90 after reporting strong growth in the fourth quarter. Nearly 4 million new users in the US signed up in the last three months of 2012, the company said.

Today, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), 3M (NYSE:MMM), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are all due to report earnings. Microsoft will report its first quarterly results since the launch of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet. According to third-party sources, PC sales actually fell during the quarter.

In economic news, initial claims for unemployment insurance last week are exected to rise back to 360,000 after the previous week's 335,000. US manufacturing purchasing manager's index probably ticked down 0.2 points to 54.

France's composite PMI for this month suggested that the country might be entering recession. Markit said that the manufacturing and services index fell to 42.7 from 46.2 in December. (Readings below 50 signal contraction.)

News also came out today that France is abandoning its 75% tax on incomes over 1 million euros, which the country's highest court already struck down. PM Francois Hollande, meanwhile denies that the plan is being abandoned.

Germany's PMI rose to 53.6 from 50.3, suggesting that the eurozone's biggest economy will avoid recession. Manufacturing PMI, however, fell to 46 from 48.8 as exports weakened. Composite PMI for the entire eurozone rose to 48.2 from 47.3, a bit closer to the 50 threshold. Markit's analysts see these numbers as mostly good news since the rate of decline in the private sector across the eurozone has ebbed.

"We shouldn't get too gloomy about those numbers. There is a turning point that took place towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year so things are picking up. Any downturn is looking likely to end in the first half," says Markit's Chris Williamson.

China's manufacturing PMI survey also came up strong at 51.9, up from 50.9.

Spain, meanwhile, reported that its jobless rate rose to 26.02, the higest level since the end of the Franco dictatorship. Youth unemployment stands at a staggering 60%.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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