April 24 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 6:38 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, April 24:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were rising and European shares gained as two U.S. technology giants posted strong earnings.

Stocks in Tokyo slipped after talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Obama failed to finalize a trade agreement. The Nikkei 225 fell 1%.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and durable-goods orders for March at 8:30 a.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday slipped amid tepid Chinese economic data and a 14.5% month-over-month drop in U.S. new-home sales.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.08% to close at 16,501.65, while the S&P 500 closed off 0.22% to 1,875.39. The Nasdaq declined 0.83% to 4,126.97.

4. -- Apple  (AAPL), the iPhone and iPad maker, reported fiscal second-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street estimates, and it announced a 7-for-1 stock split.

Apple reported earnings of $11.62 a share on revenue of $45.6 billion. The company shipped 43.7 million iPhones, 16.4 million iPads, and 4.1 million Macs during the quarter.

Gross margin, a highly watched level for Apple, came in at 39.3%. 

For the fiscal third quarter, Apple said it expects revenue of between $36 billion and $38 billion, with gross margins between 37% and 38%. 

Apple also announced that it was raising its capital allocation program to more than $130 billion by the end of calendar year 2015. As part of the program, Apple's board increased its share repurchase authorization to $90 billion from $60 billion, and boosted its quarterly dividend by 8% to $3.29 a share.

The stock was up 8.7% in premarket trading to $570.15.

5. -- Social media giant Facebook  (FB) posted first-quarter earnings and revenue that topped expectations as advertising revenue grew more than expected.

"Facebook's business is strong and growing, and this quarter was a great start to 2014," said founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the earnings statement. "We've made some long-term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business. We're in great position to continue making progress towards our mission."

Revenue for the first quarter was $2.5 billion, an increase of 72% from the first quarter of 2013. First-quarter revenue of $2.36 billion was expected by analysts.

Non-GAAP earnings in the quarter were 34 cents a share; analysts expected 24 cents.

Facebook shares rose 4.9% in premarket trading to $64.36.

6. -- Shares in French train and equipment manufacturer Alstom spiked on reports that General Electric (GE) is considering making a bid for the company.

Alstom said in a statement Thursday that it has not been "informed of any potential public tender offer for shares of the company."

GE is in discussions to pay more than $13 billion for Alstom, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter said yesterday. 

GE shares rose 0.6% in premarket trading to $26.57.

7. -- Internet retailing giant Amazon (AMZN) is expected by analysts on Thursday to report first-quarter earnings of 23 cents a share on revenue of $19.43 billion.

Amazon announced on Wednesday that it inked an exclusive multi-year online-only subscription deal for select HBO programming to bring some of its most popular shows to Amazon Prime Members.

8. -- Wall Street expects software maker Microsoft (MSFT) to report fiscal third-quarter profit of 63 cents a share on revenue of $20.39 billion.

9. -- General Motors (GM) reported profit of 6 cents a share in the first quarter on revenue of $37.4 billion. Analysts forecast earnings of 4 cents a share on sales of $38.4 billion.

GM shares rose 2% to $35.10 in premarket trading.

10. -- Online game maker Zynga's (ZNGA) founder Mark Pincus is stepping down as chief product officer, less than a year after he was replaced as the company's CEO, as the company's sales slide.

Zynga said Wednesday that Pincus will remain chairman of the company he founded in 2007.

Zynga shares rose 5% to $4.64 in premarket trading on Thursday.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

To contact the writer of this article, click here:Joseph Woelfel

To submit a news tip, send an email to:tips@thestreet.com.

Follow @josephwoe58


Copyright 2014 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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