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Pre-Market: HP Surges Despite Falling Sales; SEC Investigates Citigroup, Morgan Stanley Hiring Practices

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Stocks are slightly higher ahead of the holiday break.

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With major indices near all-time highs and economic data on tap, stocks were flat this morning ahead of tomorrow's holiday.

Trading is expected to be light today as the markets close for Thanksgiving and open for a half day on Friday. Before the opening bell, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.1% at 16,078.00. The Dow ended Tuesday flat as traders closed their positions late in the day. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.08% to 1,803.50. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures were up 0.12% to 3,451.50.

Initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 10,000 last week to 316,000. Economists had expected claims to rise by 4,000 to 330,000. Durable-goods orders in October fell 2%. The drop in orders was influenced by a decline in transportation. Excluding transport, orders were down just 0.1%.

Also, the Reuter's/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for this month will be released. The final reading for November is expected to rise to 73.3 from the initial reading of 72. Chicago PMI for November is also due for release. Economists say that the index will likely fall 5.4 points to 60.5.

European stocks rallied today after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party succeeded in forming a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. The news removed significant political uncertainty, and lifted both stocks and the euro. The single currency rose to $1.3595 in dollar terms.

Yesterday, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) delivered better-than-expected results. The tech giant's earnings came in at $1.01 per share, though revenue was down 3% at $29.1 billion. Revenue from the PC business fell 10%. Shares of HP were up 6.1% in the pre-market.

Analog Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADI) shares fell 2.34% today after the company forecasted first-quarter earnings that trailed Wall Street's expectations.

The Securities and Exchanges Commission has reportedly requested information about Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Morgan Stanley's (NYSE:MS) overseas hiring. The regulator is investigating possible bribery. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) is being investigated for hiring the offspring of influential Chinese officials to win business in the country. Scrutiny over foreign hiring practices is one of several civil and criminal inquiries into JPMorgan at this time.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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