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What Investors Should Watch for Today

After four consecutive days of losses, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) posted a tiny gain yesterday of 0.2%, and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) followed with a gain of 0.6%. Today, decisions from a European Central Bank meeting will no doubt move markets, while a Federal Reserve report might clue investors in to future Fed moves and any potential stimulus.

Yesterday's bulls and bears
The Institute of Supply Management report for the U.S. services sector beat expectations yesterday, with the index posting 53.7 for May. Any number above 50 indicates growth, while anything below 50 indicates a contraction. The positive reading from the U.S. contrasts with the eurozone's May service-sector reading of 46.7.

Spain, potentially feeling left out of the news after the recent focus on the outcome of Greece's upcoming election, grabbed the spotlight again when Spanish treasury minister Cristobal Montoro said "Spain doesn't have the market door open." This leaves it asking for help from the European Central Bank.

About that European Central Bank meeting
As will happen at the Fed meeting later this month, the European Central Bank set interest rates, and as many had forecast, the ECB will wait to lower rates. The following press conference will give more information on whether the bank will announce another LTRO-type of program or wait and keep pressure on governments while preparing the market for any future moves. The current interest rate is set at 1%. The STOXX 50 (INDEX: ^STOXX50E) is up about 2%, while the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) is up 1.3% as of publication.

The Fed Beige Book
At 2 p.m. EDT, the Fed releases its report on current economic conditions with opinions gathered from bank directors, economists, businesspeople, and others. With the recent unemployment figure unexpectedly ticking upward to 8.2%, this report will help the Fed judge whether more action might be needed to help the economy.

In the long run
Every bit of news might nudge the stocks up or down for one day, but that doesn't mean much for long-term investors looking to outperform the market. A solid company pays no attention to the everyday changes in share price, but instead looks for long-term value creation. To reveal three such solid stocks that will help you construct your retirement portfolio, along with the habits needed to build wealth far into the future, read our free report: "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich". Click here -- it's free!

Fool contributor Dan Newman holds no shares of the companies mentioned above. Follow him @TMFHelloNewman. 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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Today's Market

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DOW 18,173.31 -49.72 -0.27%
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NASD 5,281.28 -28.55 -0.54%

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10/25/2016 3:39 PM
^DJI $18172.86 Down -50.17 -0.28%
^FTSE $7017.64 Up +31.24 +0.45%
FTSE 100 CAPS Rating: No stars
^GSPC $2143.46 Down -7.87 -0.37%
S&P 500 INDEX CAPS Rating: No stars