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Pre-Market: Bank of America Net Profit Quadruples; Apple Finds Huge Demand in China

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Despite the high price tag, more than 1 million Chinese people pre-ordered the iPhone.

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Stock futures rose on Wednesday, aided by blowout results from Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and strong pre-order sales for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone in China. A bullish call on the world economy by the World Bank also boosted investor sentiment.

Before the opening bell, stock futures were pointing to a higher opening. Futures contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) were up 0.26% at 16,341. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.21% to 1,836.70 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.36% to 3,586.50.

Bank of America, the second-largest US lender, said that fourth-quarter profit quadrupled from a year earlier thanks to better consumer credit and cost-cutting. The bank earned $3.44 billion in net income, up from $732 million a year earlier. Adjusted per-share earnings of $0.29 beat expectations by a penny. Revenue rose 15% to $21.49 billion. Under CEO Brian Moynihan, the bank is reining in non-interest expenses, which fell 6% year-over-year. Credit loss provisions fell by $1.9 billion to $336 million. Mortgage originations were down 46%, however, as higher interest rates discouraged home sales. In pre-market trading, Bank of America shares rose 2.9%.

China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) reported huge demand for Apple products in China. The world's largest mobile carrier said that it received 1.2 million pre-orders for iPhones ahead of the launch on Friday. Pre-orders came in at a rate of 60,000 per day since December 25, 2013. The 16-gigabyte iPhone 5S will cost Chinese customers $874, roughly a quarter of the average urban salary. China Mobile will announce a subsidy program in March. Speaking in China, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that today is a "watershed day." Apple shares were up 1.5% before the opening bell in New York.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) shares fell 0.7% after announcing that it will pay investors quarterly dividends for the first time since May 2008. Investors will receive $0.30 per share. GM also forecast modest market share gains in North America as well as restructuring costs of $1.1 billion in 2014.

The World Bank gave the global economy a vote of confidence today. The bank forecasts worldwide economic growth of 3.2% this year, up from 2.4% in 2013. This time, it expects rich economies to contribute more to growth. The United States is expected to grow 2.8%.

"The performance of advanced economies is gaining momentum, and this should support stronger growth in developing countries," said Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank.

However, according to a release today, Germany's growth slowed in 2013. Price-adjusted GDP growth fell to 0.4% from 0.7% in 2013 as its European trading partners continue to flounder. The Federal Statistical Office warned that domestic demand can't completely offset export weakness.

Overseas equities also rose this morning, led by Japan's Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225), which rose 2.5% today.

In US economics, the Empire State Manufacturing Index rose far more than expected this month. Business conditions in the New York area rose to 12.51 from 0.98 in December of last year. Economists expected the index to rise to just 3.3. Producer prices in December rose 0.4%, falling in line with forecasts.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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