Dow Makes a Cautious Start to May

LONDON -- After closing in the red yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) looks likely to open fractionally higher today, with pre-market trading suggesting a six-point gain on opening. New economic data due this morning is likely to provide further direction as uncertainty over global economic prospects continues.

Economic data of interest today includes the ISM Manufacturing Index, which is expected to rise slightly, as well as construction spending for March and auto sales for April. Construction spending is expected to show a decent gain, up 0.5% from February's -1.1%, while auto sales are expected to have remained unchanged in April.

In early pre-market trading, energy giant ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP  ) dominated the picture, looking unpopular following the sale of one of its refineries to Delta Airlines. Elsewhere, Pfizer delivered a small boost to earnings in pre-market results, while Peabody Energy Corp and Abercrombie and Fitch looked stronger, trading up slightly before the market opened.

Several European markets were closed for the May Day public holiday, but in the U.K., which has its holiday next Monday, it was business as usual. The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) saw positive trading, finishing the morning up by 0.3% despite a fall in the U.K. Purchasing Managers' Index in April.

U.K. companies in the news included BP (NYSE: BP  ) and Lloyds Banking Group (NYSE: LYG  ) , which both released first-quarter results. A fall in replacement-cost profit from $5 billion to $4.8 billion for BP knocked more than 2% off its value this morning, but a surprise 288 million pound profit from Lloyds helped it to first place in the FTSE 100 gainers, up 4% at noon.

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Noteworthy companies due to report after the market closes today include Chesapeake Energy, CBS, and Motorola Mobility Holdings.

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Roland Head owns no shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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