Dow Poised for Early Gains

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST suggest that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) may open up by 0.4% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is expected to rise by 0.36% when trading starts.

After yesterday's blank slate, today's economic calendar contains an interesting variety of new data that may distract investors from the ongoing fiscal-cliff negotiations. First up, at 8:15 a.m. EST, is November's ADP employment survey, which is expected to show an increase of 136,000 new jobs, down from 158,000 in October. This will be followed at 8:30 a.m. EST by revised third-quarter productivity, which is expected to have been adjusted upward to 2.8% from an initial reading of 1.9%. At 10 a.m. EST, November's ISM nonmanufacturing index is due. Consensus forecasts suggest a reading of 53 -- lower than October's 54.2 but still indicative of growth. October's factory order data is also due at 10 a.m. EST and is expected to show a 0.1% fall in orders following September's 4.8% increase.

Corporate earnings reports due today include the latest updates from Brown Forman and Toro, both of which are expected to report before the opening bell. Finisar and Men's Warehouse are due to report after the markets close tonight. Pandora stock fell heavily in after-hours trading last night when the company lowered its fourth-quarter guidance, so the stock could be actively traded when markets open today.

European markets
In Europe this morning, markets made modest gains on optimism that China's new leadership will maintain and enhance its growth policies to ensure that the country's economy continues to expand. According to Reuters, Communist Party leader Xi Jinping cited tax reform, urbanization, and market-led resource-pricing as key priorities. New figures published this morning showed that eurozone retail sales fell by 1.2% in October, while September's figure was revised down from -0.2% to -0.6%.

At 8 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.3%, the CAC 40 was up 0.3%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.13%, and the IBEX 35 was up 0.13% as well. In London, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) was up 0.22%, supported by big gains for mining firms following the overnight news from China. Topping the table was Vedanta Resources, up 4.1%, while recent faller Anglo American also performed well, rising 3.9% during the morning session. Away from the mining sector, supermarket chain Tesco gained 3% after it said it was considering selling its loss-making U.S. chain, Fresh & Easy.

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