Dow and S&P to Open Flat This Morning

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) may open down by a nominal two points this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) may open one point higher.

Today's economic calendar kicks off at 8:30 a.m. EST with December's trade deficit, which is expected to have fallen to $45.5 billion from $48.7 billion in November. At 10 a.m. EST, wholesale inventories for December are expected to show an increase of 0.5%, down slightly from November's rise of 0.6%.

Corporate earnings may be a little more subdued today, as fewer big companies are due to update the markets. Among those reporting before the markets open are AOL, which is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of $0.41 per share, and Moody's, which is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of $0.69 per share. Also due to report are American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings and CBOE Holdings.

LinkedIn is likely to be actively traded when markets open; the social networking company announced an 81% rise in fourth-quarter revenue and an 86% increase in full-year revenue after the markets closed last night. LinkedIn stock was up 9% in premarket trading this morning.

European markets
Markets edged higher in Europe this morning on reports that EU leaders had managed to agree on a new EU budget deal in overnight negotiations. Spanish 10-year government bond yields receded, dropping from a recent high of 5.4% to 5.3%.

New trade data from China also provided a lift: Imports rose by 28.8% in January compared with the previous year, according to a customs report, while exports were 25% higher than in the same period last year. However, some analysts sounded a note of caution, as January 2013 contained five more working days than January 2012.

At 7:20 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.28%, the CAC 40 was up 0.55%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.9%, and the IBEX 35 was up 1%. In London, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) was 0.44% higher, led by 2% gains for temporary-power specialist Aggreko and engineering group Weir, both of which benefited from broker upgrades this morning. At the other end of the table, Imperial Tobacco was down 1.7% after broker Investec downgraded the stock from "buy" to "hold."

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