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LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is expected to open higher this morning as traders' hopes of further central bank stimulus rise. Last night, the Bank of England announced new measures and central banks across the world have confirmed they are ready to act if necessary following this Sunday's Greek elections.
At home, markets will be hoping for some positive economic data after yesterday's disappointing jobless claims data. Due this morning are the Empire State Index for June, May's industrial production and capacity utilisation data, and the latest UMich consumer sentiment index, but these relatively minor data are likely to be overshadowed by developments (if any) in Europe.
In London trading this morning, U.K. banks and oil shares were lifted strongly by Bank of England Governor Mervyn King's announcement last night that two new stimulus measures would be introduced, with the aim of stimulating lending to SMEs and households. The measures focus around providing cheap credit to U.K. banks, with between 80 billion pounds and 140 billion pounds of new money due to be fed into the economy over the coming months. During the morning, all major U.K. banks were up strongly, with Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE: RBS ) , in which the U.K. government has an 80% stake,leading the way with a 6.5% gain.
Looking at the wider European markets, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) was up 0.5% at 6:42 a.m. ET, while the German DAX was up 1%, France's CAC 40 up 1.8% and Spain's IBEX 35 up 1%. There was no repeat of yesterday's surge on the Greek stock market, but the FTSE/Athex 20 did hold on to yesterday's 11% gain through the morning and was down just 0.3% at 6:44 a.m. ET. Most Asian markets also closed higher last night, highlighting the dependence on sentiment and stimulus that is driving market activity at present.
In company news, no major earnings reports are due today but companies active in trading could include shareholder activist target AOL, and American Insurance Group, which announced after the close last night that loans relating to the Maiden Lane III portfolio had now been repaid.
Finally, billionaire investor Warren Buffett often hits the headlines with his U.S. investments, but less well-known is a major investment he made in a top U.K. blue chip brand earlier this year. Buffett increased his stake in the company to more than 5%, taking advantage of current market weakness to buy at an attractive price. If you would like to know what persuaded Buffett to buy and how much he paid, you can find this information in this special free report.
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