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Today's Pre-Market Trading Report

Today's pre-market trading outlook, Feb. 28, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.46% yesterday, finishing at 16,272.71. The Nasdaq added 0.63%, closing at 4,318.93, while the S&P 500 gained 0.50%, closing at 1,854.30.

Here are the top five stock market stories to watch today

Five Biggest Stories in Today's Stock Market, Feb. 28, 2014:

  • Bitcoin Takes a Huge Blow: The troubled virtual currency exchange Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection this morning in Tokyo, announcing it may have lost 750,000 of its customers' bitcoins (valued at $473 million) in a hacking attack this month. The company halted trading on Tuesday. But Reuters is reporting that the company's downfall can be traced back to earlier this year, citing a pattern of negative behavior in which the firm sparred against regulators, had a fallout with its former business partners, and was unable to successfully deal with a slate of cybersecurity breaches.
  • More Blame on the Snow: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen remained committed to the central bank's goals during yesterday's testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. Yellen blamed the recent round of poor economic data on the nation's recent battle against the Polar Vortex and other severe weather. Said Yellen: "Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions. But at this point it's difficult to discern exactly how much." The lack of information places a great emphasis on next Friday's jobs report.
  • The Fix Is On: Moody's director Albert Metz and New York University's Stern School of Business Professor Rosa Abrantes-Metz are alleging collusion among banks to manipulate gold prices over the last decade. In a research draft released yesterday, the two authors suggest that the London gold fix, a primary benchmark used by miners, jewelers and central banks to value gold, has shown unusual trading patterns around 3 p.m. in London trading sessions. This is the time that traders set the "afternoon fix" on prices during a private conference call among five international gold dealers. The authors allege this is a sign of collusion, as their data suggests, one that requires investigation by regulators.
  • Andreessen Responds to Icahn: Earlier this week, activist investor Carl Icahn accused eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) board member Marc Andreessen of having a conflict of interest and investing in a number of the company's competitors in the online payment space. Icahn, in a letter to eBay shareholders, let loose a number of charges against the board. Andreessen defended himself and the board in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, saying that he recuses himself from any boardroom discussions that involve outside companies his venture capital firm has backed. Icahn is aiming to replace at least one board member of eBay in the coming months, and is pushing hard for the company to spin off its lucrative PayPal unit.
  • An Interesting Day in Court: The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled this week that victims of former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford may proceed with class-action lawsuits against several accountants, investment firms, and lawyers who may have aided Stanford in his $7.2 billion massive Ponzi scheme. Following the announcement, a protestor was arrested for standing up in the courtroom and demanding the justices to overturn the Citizens United case. The protestor was arrested and charged with breaking a federal law that prohibits anyone from making a "harangue or oration" toward the Supreme Court. We've never heard of the law either…

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U.S. Economic Calendar Feb. 28, 2014

  • GDP at 8:30 a.m.
  • Chicago PMI at 9:45 a.m.
  • Consumer Sentiment at 9:55 a.m.
  • Pending Home Sales Index at 10:00 a.m.
  • Federal Reserve Gov. Jeremy Stein Speaks at 10:15 a.m.
  • Chicago Fed President Charles Evans Speaks at 1:30 p.m.
  • Farm Prices at 3:00 p.m.

Key Companies Reporting Earnings Feb. 28, 2014

  • Consensus earnings per share for Liberty Media Corp. (Nasdaq: LMCA) is $0.54.
  • Consensus earnings per share for NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) is $0.23.
  • Consensus earnings per share for Endo Health Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: ENDP) is $0.94.
  • Consensus earnings per share for 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD) is $0.22.

Others Reporting Earnings

  • Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ISIS), PEPCO Holdings Inc. (POM), KBR Inc. (KBR),  Exelis Inc. (XLS), Erie Indemnity Co. (ERIE), Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc. (RHP), PNM Resources Inc. (Holding Co.) (PNM)

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