The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is expected to open higher this morning, as investors focus on today's round of corporate earnings announcements.
Economic data due this morning include weekly jobless claims and existing home sales, but these are unlikely to contain any major surprises. Analysts are forecasting a slight increase in both weekly jobless claims and existing home sales, following yesterday's increase in housing starts.
In company news, strong figures from IBM and eBay after the bell last night could prompt trading activity this morning, as could the latest figures from Morgan Stanley, Johnson Controls, Philip Morris International, Verizon Communications, Safeway, and Southwest Airlines, which are among a slew of results due before markets open this morning.
Among those releasing quarterly figures after the bell tonight are a trio of big tech firms -- Google, Microsoft, and Advanced Micro Devices.
In Europe, the news was less benign. Spain's latest bond auction attracted sufficient bids to cover the sale, but yields rose substantially for medium-term bonds, with buyers of seven-year Spanish bonds demanding an average yield of 6.798%, up from 4.899% in February. Even two-year bonds proved expensive for the embattled Spanish government, with buyers asking for an average yield of 5.305%, up from 4.483% in June. To highlight the growing north-south divide in European sovereign debt, France also held a debt auction this morning, selling 4.5 billion euros of five-year bonds at an average yield of just 0.86%, a record low.
Following the sale, the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds climbed above 7% again, although the country's main IBEX index managed to remain positive and was up by around 0.9% at 7 a.m. ET. The DAX, CAC, and FTSE MIB indices were all higher by a similar amount at the end of the morning as well. Spain should receive some good news later today when the German parliament votes to approve the use of funds for Spain's bailout deal.
In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) edged upward by around 0.4% this morning, boosted by modest gains in stocks including luxury brand Burberry and oil services group Petrofac. Among the fallers were most utilities and several financial firms, with natural gas specialists BG Group suffering most, losing 2% following a downgrade from Credit Suisse.
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