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Jobless Claims Improve, Help Futures

S&P futures popped a few points as initial jobless claims came in at 366,000, below expectations and the lowest level since May 2008. The regional Empire Manufacturing Index was also stronger than expected for December.

S&P downgrade of sovereign debt in Europe hangs over the markets this week. European Central Bank policymaker Christian Noyer, in an interview in a French newspaper, said a downgrade of France's triple-A credit rating would not be justified and claimed ratings agencies were making decisions based more on politics than economics. Not that there is any difference any more.

Less drama. Italian government calling for a confidence vote on its austerity measures for tomorrow, but for once there is little doubt the vote will be in favor of the package.

Elsewhere:

1. Shanghai Composite Index down for the sixth straight day, now at a two-and-a-half-year low.

2. Honeywell forecasts 2012 earnings of $4.25 to $4.50 per share, up 6 percent to 12 percent over the prior year. Honeywell sees organic growth revenue up 4 percent to 6 percent, and sales of $37.8 billion to $38.9 billion — up 4 percent to 7 percent over 2011 estimated sales. The company plans for a more challenging macro environment in 2012. Honeywell shares climbed 2 percent in premarket trading.

3. FedEx rises 3 percent in pre-market trading after beating analysts’ earnings estimates for the second quarter. FedEx reported $1.57 EPS versus estimates of $1.52. Second quarter revenue was $10.59 billion versus estimates of $10.61 billion. The all-important Express segment (about 60 percent of revenues) was about in line with expectations; International Domestic was strong. The company notes improved performance was largely due to effective yield management programs and strong demand for home deliveries and FedEx SmartPost services. FedEx reaffirms its full year forecast of $6.25 to $6.75 per share versus analyst consensus of $6.28.

4. Texas Instruments moving from the New York Stock Exchange to the NASDAQ. The company said: "This move will enhance our public visibility, while offering our shareholders cost-effective access to advanced trading technologies." Really? Hm. NASDAQ does offer a package...lots of screen time in the Times Square building...but the issue is still fees.

The NYSE charges up to $500,000 in listing fees, based on shares outstanding. NASDAQ charges $100,000, tops. The NYSE used to argue that you get a specialist who dampens down volatility...but now the main argument is the NYSE is a better brand.

Does it seem kind of petty to argue over $400,000 when we are dealing with billion dollar companies? It is, but imagine the IR (investor relations) department of a major company is just like other departments. They are looking to save money any way they can.


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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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