Investors can expect a positive start to the stock market today: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has gained 28 points, or 0.17%, in pre-market trading. Global stocks were flat overnight despite the news that China's economic growth appears to be slowing. Industrial output in the world's second-biggest economy improved by 8.6% over the past two months, while economists had expected a 9.5% rise.
The U.S. economic calendar is light today, but investors will hear from the nominee to become vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, economist Stanley Fischer, who is slated to join Chairwoman Janet Yellen in leading the central bank. Fischer is scheduled to testify to a congressional committee beginning at 10 a.m. EDT.
Meanwhile news is breaking this morning on a few stocks that could see heavy trading in today's session, including General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , Dollar General (NYSE: DG ) , and Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO ) .
General Electric today took its first official step toward exiting the lucrative, but somewhat risky, consumer financing business. GE filed paperwork with the SEC for the spinoff of its consumer capital division into a separate publicly traded company. The new business, which will be the largest servicer of private label credit cards in the U.S., is called Synchrony Financial and will trade in the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SYF. The spinoff is a big step toward refocusing GE on its industrial business, which should grow to 70% of its earnings by 2016. GE's stock is up 1% in pre-market trading.
Gogo announced surprisingly strong fourth-quarter earnings results this morning. Sales jumped by 46% to hit $93 million -- well ahead of the $85 million that analysts expected. However, the in-flight wireless provider's operating loss grew as it continued to spend heavily on international expansion. Gogo lost $14 million this quarter, compared to $10 million in the year-ago period. The company provided a confident outlook for 2014 that called for sales to spike by 30% as more aircraft are upgraded to faster data delivery systems. Gogo's stock is up nearly 4% in pre-market trading.
Finally, Dollar General this morning booked steady growth for its fiscal fourth quarter, along with a weak outlook for 2014. Dragged down by a rough selling environment, the discount retailer said same-store sales rose by just 1.3%, which helped push revenue up 7% to $4.5 billion. Profit improved to $1.01 a share from last year's $0.97 result. Dollar General also issued guidance for 2014 that called for weak same-store sales growth as its customers continue to be pressured by the macroeconomic environment. Dollar General's stock is down 2.6% in pre-market trading.
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