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The U.S. equity markets appeared resilient to a post-record hangover on Wednesday as futures trekked up across the board. The ADP National Employment report for February showed an increase of 198,000 in private non-farm employment, beating expectations for 173,000. However, this is not an improvement over January’s upwardly-revised 215,000 increase.
Futures at 8:55 a.m.: DJIA: +0.41%, S&P 500: +0.42%, NAASDAQ: +0.24%.
Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) fell as much as 4.44 percent in pre-market trading after reporting fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results that disappointed investors. Total company sales for the fourth-quarter, excluding the bonus 53rd week in 2012, fell 4.2 percent. Non-GAAP earnings did come in 1 cent above estimates at $0.46 per share, but forecasts for operating profit in a range between $1.30 and $1.35 per share for 2013 fell short of expectations by as much as 14 cents.
Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) experienced continued action in Wednesday’s pre-market as rumors about a merger with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) circulated. The news is just speculation, and Verizon has several options on the table, but any resolution in the relationship between the two companies is likely to end well.
J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) stock continued to suffer as its legal battle with Macy’s (NYSE:M) and Martha Stewart Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO) develops. The two retailers are battling over the right to sell Martha Stewart products, which are a major sales driver. Losing the right to put the products on their shelves would be a blow to either company. J.C. Penney was off about 1.2 percent in pre-market trading.
Life Technologies (NASDAQ:LIFE), which builds DNA-sequencing equipment, could be the target of a buyout orchestrated by Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) and other equity firms. Two people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that CEO Gregory Lucier favors a buyout over a deal with investors because he wishes to remain in control of the business.
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