10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell

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Good morning. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Asian markets were mostly lower in overnight trading, with the Nikkei down 1.13%. Major European indices are mixed and U.S. futures suggest a mixed open.
  • The U.S. GDP report for Q4 2010 came in below estimates at 3.2%. Read analysis here >
  • Protests have begun again today in Egypt. There are unconfirmed reports Mohamed ElBaradei, former IAEA chief, has been arrested. Check out photos of Tuesday’s massive protests >
  • The regional uprising has spread from Tunisia and Egypt in North Africa, to Lebanon and Yemen. In Lebanon, a new government is already forming more influenced by Hezbollah. In Yemen, protesters continue to call for the president’s resignation. Don’t miss: The 25 governments that could get crushed by food price inflation >
  • Japan’s government has promised to put in place fiscal reforms that tackle the country’s deficit in response to the S&P downgrade. The country plans a 5% increase in the sales tax. These are the 19 countries most likely to default >
  • One of Spain’s largest savings banks, La Caixa, intends to move its banking business into an already publicly traded company. At $28.2 billion in book value, the bank would be the eurozone’s 10th largest. This is why everyone is terrified of the Spanish crisis >
  • Ford significantly beat on the revenue number, but its earnings per share number was much lower than expected. Revenues came in at $32.5 billion, EPS at $0.30.
  • Microsoft beat both on EPS and revenue for Q4 2010, boosted by sales of the Kinect and Xbox. EPS came in at $0.77 versus the $0.68 expected.
  • Amazon reported disappointing operating income for Q4 2010 of $622 million, versus $650 million. EPS did beat, however, though the stock was down significantly in after hours trading.
  • The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is released at 9:55 AM ET. It is expected to rise slightly to 73.0. Follow the release at Money Game >
  • Australia has (yet another) cyclone on its way. Click here for pictures of the flood of biblical proportions covering the country >
  • Bonus: Charlie Sheen suffered a hernia while partying Thursday.

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