Tiffany Trips, Buffet Makes a Promise, and Apple Gets Friendly: Morning Buzzers

Stock futures were trading up on Thursday morning, although early gains pulled back slightly after the initial jobless claims report for the week ended January 5 showed a 1 percent increase in new claims to 371,000. The four-week moving average climbed about 1.9 percent to 365,750.

At 8:46 a.m.: S&P: +0.36%, Dow: +0.34%, NASDAQ: +0.46%.

Here’s what’s buzzing in the pre-market:lots of iphones

China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) is the world’s largest mobile carrier, and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) doesn’t have access to its massive subscriber base. At least, not yet. The relationship between the two companies could change following a Thursday-morning meeting between Apple CEO Tim Cook and China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua where they reportedly discussed “matters of cooperation.” As a result, shares of the tech company saw some love in the pre-market, trading up as much as 2.5 percent.

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Shares of Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) fell off a cliff after reporting sales for the two-month period ended December 31 and updating its financial outlook. Worldwide sales grew 4 percent to $9.9 billion for the period, while management pointed at the lower-end of its $3.20 to $3.40 full-year EPS guidance and flagged “conservative” sales growth for 2013. Wall Street was expecting around $3.26 per share…

Shares of Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) continue to trade hands at a high volume as investors effectively pick sides in a fight between two of the top hedge-fun managers in the world. In December, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square accused Herbalife of operating a massive pyramid scheme, catalyzing a massive sell off. More recently, Dan Loeb of Third Point disclosed an 8 percent stake in the company. Shares were up nearly 4 percent in the pre-market.

Bloomberg reports that Warren Buffett has guaranteed that the U.S. financial industry won’t get the country into trouble… again. Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKA)(NYSE:BRKB) both have substantial investments in major banks, and the highly-respected investor argues that new regulations, increased capital ratios, better management, and leaner operations have created a banking sector that will do right by both investors and the public.

Ford (NYSE:F) enjoyed a pop those morning after news broke that America’s second-largest automaker will double its dividend to $0.10 per share.

Meanwhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is downgraded to “Equal-weight” from “Overweight” by analysts at Morgan Stanley. No surprises here: the underwhelming performance of Windows 8 is as good a reason as any to make bearish noises about the aging tech giant.

Investing Insights: Cheat Sheet: Gundlach’s Year of the Snake 2013 Outlook.