Dow May Creep Higher on Opening

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. ET suggest that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) may open up by 0.25% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is expected to rise by 0.19% when trading starts.

Consumer spending is the main focus of today's economic data. Personal income and consumer spending reports for October are due at 8.30 a.m. ET -- personal income is expected to have risen by 0.2%, down from 0.4% in September, while consumer spending is expected to have risen by 0.1%, down from 0.8% in September. The Chicago PMI for November is due after markets open, at 9.45 a.m., and is expected to have risen to 50.3, up from 49.9 in October.

Investors are also likely to remain focused on the continuing fiscal cliff saga, which caused whipsaw trading in the Dow yesterday as sentiment shifted each time House Speaker John Boehner spoke to the press. After President Obama tabled new proposals late last night, Boehner's comment was that "no substantive progress has been made [...] over the last two weeks." More debate is likely today.

Company results will be thin today, but Zynga'sstock could be heavily traded after it fell by 13% in after-hours trading on Thursday, following news of major changes to its deal with Facebook. Yum! Brands could also fall after cutting its guidance for the Chinese market, while Apple could get a lift after the iPhone 5 was approved by Chinese regulators. St Jude Medical may rise after it announced a $1 billion share buyback program yesterday.

Companies due to report quarterly earnings include WhiteWave Foods, which is expected to post third-quarter earnings of $0.17 per share in its first earnings update since the company floated in October.

European markets
European stocks were little changed this morning as investors waited for further news on the fiscal cliff negotiations. Closer to home, the eurozone unemployment rate rose to 11.7% in October, up from 11.6% in September. The rise equates to a further 173,000 people becoming unemployed across the eurozone (member countries of the European single currency) last month.

At 7 a.m., the DAX was up 0.42%, the CAC 40 was up 0.34%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.10% and the IBEX 35 was down by 0.33%. In London, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) was up 0.27%, with hotel and pub owner Whitbread leading the risers, up by 1.8%, while retail broker and fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown sank to the bottom of the leaderboard, falling 2.1%.

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