3 Things to Watch in Today's Market

It's been a long time since investors have been this bored. The heart of earnings season has passed, and major indexes sit largely stagnant. Sure, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) and S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) are up 1.8% and 2.6% for the month, respectively, but trading volume has fallen to its lowest levels in more than five years. While low levels of trading activity are likely to persist today as we approach the Labor Day weekend, let's go through a few things investors should pay attention to in today's market.

Data
Although it's always retrospective, looking at economic data helps to highlight some broader economic trends, as well as some more industry-focused metrics. This morning, investors receive a reading on second-quarter GDP and numbers on corporate profits for Q2, both of which fall into the highly backward-looking category. At 10 a.m. EDT, a more useful number on July's pending home sales is released, with expectations for a 1% gain versus June's 1.4% drop.

The Isaac Effect
While it's not the 100-year storm that Katrina was, Hurricane Isaac will test New Orleans' $15 billion flood defenses. All appears to be going well thus far, but with the slow-moving storm dumping massive amounts of rain on the area, we'll have to wait to learn about the level of damage. One group especially focused on the storm's impact is Gulf oil producers, such as Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC  ) and Apache (NYSE: APA  ) . Many producers shut down production earlier this week and may not see a return to normalized levels for a number of days. This marks the first large-scale production impact in the Gulf region since 2008, with some estimates suggesting a 5% to 10% revenue impact for producers in the region this quarter.

Earnings
There are always a few stragglers reporting earnings after the main period of earnings season has passed. This morning, investors hear from three S&P 500 components: Brown-Forman, H.J. Heinz, and Joy Global (NYSE: JOY  ) . Focusing in on mining-equipment maker Joy Global, shares indicate a lower open in premarket activity after the company missed both revenue and earnings expectations for its fiscal third quarter. CEO Mike Sutherlin also offered a cautious stance going forward, saying that "the outlook for our business has continued to decline over the past quarter" and lowering full year guidance.

Foolish bottom line
Though we'll receive our daily dose of economic data and a few earnings reports today, the fact remains that this week will remain as monotonous as Ben Stein's voice. However, slow-moving markets can be a godsend for investors who need to refocus their attention on building a portfolio full of great businesses built for the long term. To help, our analysts have highlighted a few of their favorite long-term picks in this special free report: "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." To claim an instant copy of this report, simply click here now.

Brenton Flynn owns no shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Joy Global and Apache. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of H.J. Heinz. 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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