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Futures Edge Higher; Housing Starts Disappoint; GOOG vs. MSFT; BlackBerry Bombshell

Markets are attempting to mount a turnaround this morning. Futures have been fractionally higher after two days of bruising losses. The Dow dropped a stomach churning 225-points yesterday, about 1.5%. The NASDAQ was down 1.7% for the session. What exactly has caused stocks to slide? And will we be able to end the week with at least a tiny turnaround? Yahoo! Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli has more from the floor of the NYSE in the video above.

As stocks slide gold has been gaining. The precious metal hit a two-month high yesterday of $1,372 an ounce. The rise came on the heels of news that John Paulson and George Soros have been unloading their gold. Some say that's a sign that institutional selling could be over. You, our viewers, seem to agree. Yesterday's poll question was whether it would be wise to unload gold right now. More than 54% of you said it would be most unwise.

Breaking news: Numbers on July housing starts released right as we started streaming live to you at 8:30. The Department of Commerce says they came in at an annual rate of 896,000 for the month. Estimates were for 915,000 housing starts annually. The number was still up from June when it came in at 836,000.

Here are a number of other headlines this morning: There are several reports Sony (SNE) has reached a deal to carry Viacom (VIA) channels as it prepares to launch an online pay TV service; Facebook (FB) is testing a way for users to make purchases through the social network using retailers' mobile apps; Google (GOOG) has again disabled the YouTube app on Windows phones. The reasons are murky but Microsoft (MSFT) suggests it's to give Android phones an edge; BlackBerry (BBRY) CEO Thorsten Heins could soon become a $56-million man. That's how much he's entitled to if the company gets sold and he's ousted.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Pandora (P) has been up more than 8% in premarket trading. Goldman Sachs has just upgraded the stock and given it a new price target of $27. Analyst Heath Terry says he is encouraged by three consecutive quarters of accelerating growth. He also says the company seems to understand its competition. This morning's rise adds to gains of 109% year-to-date.

Dell (DELL) seems determined to hover just below the $13.75 price being offered by company founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Management.Dell reported earnings after yesterday's closing bell. They beat the street, but were still dismal compared to last year. Adjusted earnings were 25-cents a share, a penny above estimates but down from 42-cents a year ago. Revenue was also above the consensus at $14.5-billion, about the same as last year. Dell says its woes have been worsening with slumping P-C sales forcing it to cut prices. By the way competitor Lenovo says it is now selling more tablets and phones than PCs.

Nordstrom (JWN) has dipped 2.3% on its earnings. The chain beat by a nickel on the bottom line, posting profits of 93-cents a share. But revenues were about $90-million short of expectations. Nordstrom is also cutting its full year forecast. Same-store sales for the period just ended were actually up more than 4% from a year ago. But analysts were looking for gains of almost 7%. Prior to the moves we're seeing at this hour, shares of Nordstrom have been up about 11% this year.

Joseph A. Bank (JOSB) has been down more than 6% in premarket trading. It seems the chain is having trouble giving its merchandise away. The company says customers have not been responding to its high-volume sales campaigns--offers like buy one suit, get five items free. That means, sales and profits will both fall short of expectations for the quarter. At this point, the CEO is predicting profits between 49 and 53-cents a share down from earlier estimates of 68-cents. Revenue will likely be shy of $232-million when earlier estimates were for more than $270-million.

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