europe’s debt crisis

Optimism Over Europe’s Debt Crisis Pushes U.S. Stock Futures Higher. Pre-Market Stocks to Watch: SFSF, AAPL, AMZN, PEIX, ALXA, RIMM, BAC

U.S. stock futures rose as optimism over Europe’s ability to contain its debt crisis gained momentum with France’s Sarkozy meeting with Germany’s Merkel meeting today just ahead of the European Union summit. Italy also announced further measures to rein in its spending. Investors are also hopeful more economic data from the U.S. this week will bring more good news and keep the steady trend of a U.S. recovery alive.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 104 points, or 0.9%, to 12,104. Futures for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 11.7 points, or 1%, to 1,255.20.
Nasdaq 100 futures rose 19.25 points, or 0.8%, to 2,322.50.

The Dow closed up 7% last week, the biggest weekly point gain in three years. The gains followed November data that showed a drop in the U.S. unemployment rate. Today, more data will come streaming in as the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing report for November will be released. That report is due to be released at 100:00 am ET.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 0.7% to 242.53, led by banks, after the Italian government Sunday announced more austerity measures. That news helped bring the 10-year Italian government-bond yield lower.

The FTSE 100 Index added 32.2 points to 5584.2, a rise of 0.5% after climbing 7.5% last week during its best performance for nearly three years. The Dax and Cac 40 were both higher in Frankfurt and Paris respectively as news of a Sarkozy-Merkel meeting were welcomed.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.2% to 78.515.

Gold futures for February delivery dropped $7.70 to $1,741.50 an ounce.

Oil futures for January delivery rose 62 cents to $101.58 a barrel. Earlier, Asian shares traded higher as investors were optimistic about Europe also. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished 0.7% higher, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.6%, South Korea’s Kospi traded up 0.4%, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8%. The Shanghai Composite Index bucked the regional trend, however, losing 1.2%.

Stocks to watch this morning include SuccessFactors Inc. (NYSE:SFSF), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ:PEIX), Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXA), Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC).

SuccessFactors, Inc. (NYSE:SFSF) is up 52.38% in pre-market trading at $40.00. Earlier SAP, a German enterprise applications software giant, said it will buy SuccessFactors for $40 per share. This is a 52% premium of the company’s closing price on Friday. SuccessFactors provides cloud-based management applications. The deal has already been approved by SuccessFactors’ board and should close in the first quarter of 2012. SFSF has traded 559 thousand shares in pre-market trading and trades 1.78 million shares a day on average. The company has a market cap of 2.21 billion.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is up 0.72% in pre-market trading at $392.51. Apple lost a bid to have U.S. sales of Samsung’s Galaxy phones halted in the latest legal battle between the two companies. Samsung surpassed Apple as the world’s top smartphone maker in the third quarter. Apple and Samsung have been trying to have each other’s products banned over patent infringements all over the world recently. AAPL stock rose nearly $20 a share last week. AAPL trades 15.41 million shares daily and has a market cap of 362.19 billion.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is up 1.39% in pre-market trading at $198.76. Last week, AMZN started the week off sluggish but finished strong, up more than $5 a share from its low of the week. Amazon.com has been propelled by fantastic sales of its Kindle Fire and overall sales numbers from Black Friday. AMZN trades 7.57 million shares a day on average and has a current market cap of 7.57 million.

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ:PEIX) closed Friday up 10.37% at $1.49. Last week, PEIX had a sell off for the first half of the week, but quickly turned it around after announcing an increased ownership of 7% in New PE Holdco LLC. Following this news, PEIX jumped from $1.10 on Wednesday to nearly $1.60 intraday on Friday. PEIX trades 15.26 million shares daily and has a market cap of 114.88 million.

Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXA) closed Friday up nearly 3% at $1.02. ALXA has an FDA decision coming up next week and should see trading action ahead of this news. ALXA stock is up $0.10 from its low last week. ALXA trades 483 thousand shares a day on average and has a market cap of 73.58 million.

Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) is down 1.07% in pre-market trading at $16.59. RIMM continues to get hammered after the company had to write down a $485 million charge on its Playbook tablet. RIMM is having big promotion with reduced pricing for its tablet after it experienced poor sales throughout the year. On Friday RIMM fell from $18.5 to $16.77. RIMM trades 20.98 million shares a day on average and has a market cap of 8.79 billion.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) is up 2.30% in pre-market trading at $5.64. Last week, BAC bounced back more than $0.60 from its low after the coordinated action by central banks to ease banks’ borrowing rates. BAC trades 269.40 million shares a day on average and has a market cap of 57.17 billion.

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