LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) may open slightly higher this morning if weekly jobless claims figures deliver the forecast improvement. The market might also take a keen interest in the conclusion from the European Central Bank's monthly meeting, expected at 8:30 EDT.
However, good news early in the day could be overshadowed by new data showing that productivity is falling while labor costs continue to rise. A small fall in the ISM non-manufacturing index is also expected.
Early pre-market trading indicated that companies likely to be active today would include Salesforce.com and Chesapeake Energy. A fall in first-quarter profits at Safeway earlier this week also attracted pre-market activity, with the shares trending downwards.
In the U.K., the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) rose by 0.5% through the morning in anticipation of supportive news from the European Central Bank. Decent first-quarter results from health-care giant Smith & Nephew (NYSE: SNN ) and a broker upgrade for InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE: IHG ) may lift the ADRs of these companies when the market opens.
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Later today, investors may focus on the food sector, as both Sara Lee and Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT ) issue their latest quarterly figures.
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