LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) may start the week down by a single point, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) may open up by a fraction of a point.
Today's economic calendar is relatively lean. The main focus this morning is likely to be December's existing-home sales at 10 a.m. EST, which are expected to show a 2% increase after a 5.9% gain in November. The Richmond Federal Reserve manufacturing survey is also due at 10 a.m. EST.
The main focus is likely to be on earnings once more, with a number of big names due to report quarterly numbers today. Before markets opened this morning, DuPont reported earnings per share of $0.11 on revenue of $7.3 billion, comfortably exceeding consensus forecasts of $0.07 per share on the same revenue. DuPont shares were up by more than 1% in premarket trading, but shares in Verizon Communications were down by 1% after the company reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of $0.38 per share, below expectations of $0.51 per share and much lower than prior-year earnings in 2011 of $0.52 per share.
Other companies due to report this morning include Johnson & Johnson, Travelers, Norfolk Southern and Delta Air Lines. After the closing bell, a number of tech heavyweights will deliver their fourth-quarter updates, with Google, IBM, Advanced Micro Devices, Texas Instruments, and CA all due to report.
In Europe, markets retreated from recent highs this morning, with some investors disappointed that the Bank of Japan's promised asset-purchase program -- effectively quantitative easing -- will not start until January 2014. There were also reports this morning that EU finance ministers are likely to approve the creation of the so-called "Robin Hood" tax -- a financial-transaction tax -- at their monthly meeting today. This would affect all transactions involving eurozone member states.
Finally, on a positive note, the German ZEW industrial sentiment index hit a 30-month high in January, rising to 31.5 from 6.9 in December, beating expectations for a reading of 12.
As of 7:40 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 0.41%, the CAC 40 was down 0.33%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.61%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.35%. In London, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) was down by about a point, with gold and silver miner Fresnillo (LSE: FRES ) proving the biggest drag on the index, down nearly 4% after warning that silver production was likely to be flat in 2013 and that some costs might rise.
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