European Elections Weigh on the Dow

After a weak jobs report sank the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) on Friday to wrap up its worst week in 2012, investors are hoping for markets to bounce back this week.

Before opening, however, Dow futures were trading down about 0.3%, as European elections sent a strong message against austerity. The French took to the streets to celebrate the ouster of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, replacing him with Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who has advocated for more stimulus measures to encourage growth, as opposed to the austerity packages favored by Germany. In parliamentary elections in Greece, voters punished the ruling parties, but with a split vote, no single party will be able to form a government, creating more uncertainty over the future of the still-teetering economy. If the parties cannot form a coalition government, a new round of elections could come in as soon as a few months from now.

Worldwide markets were in the red. Asian indexes were down sharply overnight with the Hang Seng and the Nikkei dipping more than 2.5%. In Europe, the German DAX dropped nearly 0.5%, and the French CAC 40 edged up in late trading. British markets were closed due to a holiday.

Speaking at Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-B  ) annual meeting, CEO Warren Buffett said he believes Europe's financial problems will linger and sees the countries' 17 separate monetary policies as a large part of the eurozone's crisis. He also said he thinks American banks are much more stable than European ones due to the immediate response to the financial crisis, but issues in Europe will not deter him from investing.

Turning to domestic news, at the CTIA wireless show in New Orleans, AT&T (NYSE: T  ) will announce plans today to invest heavily in a nationwide wireless home monitoring service. The service, known as "Digital Life," would keep an eye out for everything from water damage to burglaries and also allow users to remotely adjust the temperature or lock and unlock doors, among other things -- all through an Internet connection. The telecom giant will begin trials of the service later this year, and executives believe it could add $1 billion per year in sales.

Two earnings reports of particular interest to Foolish investors come out today.

Natural-gas watchers will want to look out for Clean Energy Fuels' (Nasdaq: CLNE  ) earnings report, due out after markets close. Analysts are expecting a loss of $0.17 per share for the builder of "America's Natural Gas Highway," shares of which have fallen about 30% from the all-time high of $24.75 it reached in March. The company posted an EPS loss of $0.21 in Q4 2011 and a $0.05 loss for the quarter a year ago.

With 46% of shares sold short, medical-device maker MAKO Surgical (Nasdaq: MAKO  ) could swing wildly after it reports earnings when markets close. Analysts are expecting a loss of $0.20 a share on 83% revenue growth to $23.8 million. The highflier has never posted a profit and trades at a P/S of more than 20, as investors appear to be bullish on the company's growth prospects and its razor-and-blades model.

Finally, one economic report will be released today at 3 p.m.: the Consumer Credit report, which rarely affects markets, as it has a one-month lag and follows most other consumer spending reports. The market is expecting March consumer debt to total $11 billion, following $8.7 billion in February.

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Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman holds no positions in the companies in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and MAKO Surgical. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Berkshire Hathaway, MAKO Surgical, and Clean Energy Fuels. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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