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By Yigal Grayeff and the Market Currents team

German industrial orders plummet. German new industrial orders for November have indicated more woe for the eurozone's economic engine with a monthly fall of 4.8%, well below a rise of 5% in October and a forecast of -1.7%. The euro had been higher against the dollar today but was flat premarket. Separately, eurozone unemployment remained unchanged in November at 10.3%.

Hacker group threatens Symantec. A hacker group called Lords of Dharmaraja has posted on the Internet a file explaining how Symantec’s (NASDAQ:SYMC) flagship Norton Antivirus program is designed to work and threatened to release the source code. Symantec says that the post is an outdated document from 1999 but that "there is no actual source code present."

CFTC turns scrutiny onto CME over MF's bankruptcy. The CFTC has widened its probe of MF Global's (OTC:MFGLQ) collapse to include whether CME Group's (NASDAQ:CME) efforts to verify the safety of customer funds were sufficient, The New York Times reports. CME faces sanctions if it is found wanting and could even lose its status as a self-regulator, although that is seen as unlikely.

Payrolls seen rising but so is the unemployment rate. Unemployment data for December is due out this morning, with economists expecting that nonfarm payrolls rose by 150,000 after increasing by 120,000 in November. However, the jobless rate is estimated to have climbed to 8.7% after falling to 8.6% the previous month. This could be because more of the unemployed are more confident about finding a job and so have resumed searching, and the government only factors them in if they are looking for work.

Iran, U.S. up the ante. Iran plans to hold another round of naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in February, the semi-official Fars news agency reports. The news followed reports yesterday that thousands of U.S. troops are headed to Israel to take part in the largest-ever joint drill between the two countries.

Alcoa Q4 hit by overhaul costs. Just days before it is due to kick off earnings season, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) yesterday said it will take restructuring charges of $0.15-0.16 in Q4 as it cuts global smelting capacity by 12% (531K metric tons) in response to a drop in aluminum prices. The plans include permanent closures to three smelters in Tennessee and Texas. Alcoa was -2.8% premarket.

Samsung forecasts jump in profit to $4.5B. Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) expects its Q4 operating profit to have risen an annualised 73% to 5.2T won ($4.5B), largely due to strong sales of its smartphones and despite slower economic growth in key markets over the past year. Samsung also estimates a 12% revenue increase to 47T won.

J&J halts Doribax pneumonia trial. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has halted a clinical trial of its Doribax antibiotic after more pneumonia patients who took the product died and fewer were cured. Doribax is still considered safe and effective for treating urinary and abdominal infections. The move is further bad news after Bloomberg yesterday reported that J&J has agreed to pay over $1B to settle a civil probe by the U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia into the marketing of Risperdal.

BofA takes on Mediobanca risk. As if it doesn't have enough risk to cope with, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), along with Mediobanca (OTC:MDIBF), has reportedly agreed to buy 10% of UniCredit's closely watched €7.5B share issue should it fail completely. BofA and Mediobanca, which are the lead underwriters, will purchase a smaller amount of shares if the offering is partially successful. UniCredit's stock price has plummeted this week following the release of the terms of the capital raising.

California unveils $9B deficit-reduction plan. California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday proposed to slash the state's projected $9.2B deficit next FY with $4.2B in cuts to social services and $4.7B in tax hikes. Unlike previously, the tax measures won't require legislative approval, so Brown will be able to pass the budget without the GOP's input.

Citigroup fails to sell OneMain Financial After months of rumors and exclusive talks, Citigroup's (NYSE:C) efforts to sell consumer-lending unit OneMain Financial have reportedly ended without a deal in place. The failure to close an agreement, which apparently could have been worth at least $1B, reflects the volatile credit markets and investor wariness about loan securitization.

Blackstone, Carlyle eye stake in $4B Reliance unit. Blackstone (NYSE:BX) and Carlyle are in separate discussions to acquire a substantial stake in the tower unit of Indian mobile carrier Reliance Communications, which values the subsidiary at around $4B, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -1.2% to 8390. Hong Kong -1.2% to 18593. China +0.7% to 2163. India +0.1% to 15868.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.5%. Paris +0.8%. Frankfurt +0.4%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.3%. Crude +0.7% to $102.48. Gold +0.3% to $1625.00.

Friday's economic calendar:
Monster Employment Index
8:30 Nonfarm Payrolls
9:00 Fed's Dudley: New Jersey Economic Leadership Forum
10:20 Fed's Rosengren: Economic Outlook
12:40 PM Duke: 'Economic and Housing Market Developments'
1:00 PM Raskin: 'Community Banking Supervision'

Earnings Results: Companies that beat EPS expectations last night and today include Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL), IHS (NYSE:IHS).

Those in line include Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO).

Those that missed forecasts include Imperial Sugar Company (NASDAQ:IPSU).

For full real-time earnings coverage, please click here.

Notable earnings before Friday's open: CMC

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News