Deere Beats the Street as the Dow Eyes a Strong Open

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) may open 0.17% higher this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) may open 0.21% higher. The potential gains follow President Obama's State of the Union speech last night, in which he proposed $50 billion of new spending on infrastructure projects and a new free-trade agreement with the European Union.

As the Dow edges closer to its all-time high, today's economic calendar and corporate earnings reports should provide plenty of material for investors to chew on. Today's economic data starts at 8:30 a.m. EST with January's retail sales, which are expected to have risen by 0.1% following the recent payroll tax increase. Retail sales rose by 0.5% in December. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EST is January's import price index, which is expected to have risen by 0.7% after dropping 0.1% during December, while at 10 a.m. EST, December's business inventories are due.

Companies reporting before the bell this morning include Deere (NYSE: DE  ) , which is up in premarket trading after reporting earnings of $1.65 per share (excluding items) on revenue of $7.4 billion, beating Wall Street expectations of $1.40 a share in earnings and $6.7 billion in revenue. The company said the outperformance owed to strong demand, and it raised its 2013 profit guidance by $100 million to $3.3 billion.

Dean Foods, Duke Energy, and Dr Pepper Snapple are also due to report before the markets open. There are more big names after the closing bell, including Zillow, NVidia, Cisco Systems, Trip Advisor, and Applied Materials.

Comcast and General Electric may both be in demand when markets open after Comcast announced that it had taken full control of NBC Universal on Tuesday in a $16.7 billion deal with GE. In premarket trading this morning, Comcast shares were up by 7.4%, and GE shares were up by 3.3%.

European markets
Several European markets edged lower this morning as investors digested the latest Bank of England inflation report, which suggested that inflation will remain above its 2% target for at least the next two years. In the eurozone, meanwhile, new data showed that factory output in the single-currency area rose by 0.7% in December, beating economists' expectations of a 0.2% increase.

At 7 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.72%, the CAC 40 was up 0.2%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.44%, and the IBEX 35 was up 0.67%. In London, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) was flat despite a 4.9% gain for Tullow Oil, which announced expectation-beating full-year profit of $1.1 billion. Mining shares were also higher, but several big names -- including Vodafone and Lloyds Banking Group -- were lower, preventing the index from making meaningful gains.

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