Dow May Gain on Economic Reports

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

European markets slipped lower this morning ahead of today's U.S. economic reports. At 7:15 a.m. EDT the FTSE 100 was down 0.44%, dragged lower by a broad sell-off of mining stocks and a 1.9% fall for telecom firm Vodafone after Verizon denied yesterday's rumor that it is putting together a bid for the firm in conjunction with AT&T. In the eurozone, inflation fell from 1.8% to 1.7%, while the International Monetary Fund suggested that additional taxation measures may be necessary for Cyprus to meet the terms of its 10 billion euro bailout. Investors may remain cautious ahead of tomorrow's meeting of the European Central Bank and Bank of England policy committees, at which potential changes to current monetary-easing programs may be discussed.

The ADP private-sector payroll data for March will be released at 8:15 a.m. EDT. The measure is seen by some as a lead indicator ahead of this Friday's key nonfarm payrolls report, and consensus forecasts suggest that 192,000 new jobs may have been created in the private sector in March, down slightly from 198,000 in February. Today's other main data item is the ISM nonmanufacturing index for March, due at 10 a.m. EDT. Analysts' forecasts suggest that the nonmanufacturing index may drop slightly to 55.8, down from 56 in March. However, the ISM manufacturing index came in below expectations on Monday, so investors may be cautious ahead of this report.

Two major earnings reports are due before markets open today, with both ConAgra Foods and agricultural giant Monsanto set to update the markets. ConAgra is expected to report third-quarter earnings of $0.56 per share, while Monsanto is expected to post second-quarter earnings of $2.56 per share, according to analysts' consensus forecasts. Other companies due to report before the opening bell include Acuity Brands, Conns, and Schnitzer Steel Industries.

Tesla may also continue to be actively traded ahead of the "big announcement" promised today by founder Elon Musk. Last night, the electric-car maker said it would be partnering with Wells Fargo to create a financing package aimed at improving the affordability of its electric-car models. Meanwhile, online-gaming company Zynga could be one of the day's biggest climbers after it said last night that it would introduce real-money online gambling in the U.K. Zynga shares were 12% higher in premarket trading.

Finally, let's not forget that the Dow's daily movements can add up to some serious long-term gains. Indeed, Warren Buffett recently wrote: "The Dow advanced from 66 to 11,497 in the 20th Century, a staggering 17,320% increase that materialized despite four costly wars, a Great Depression and many recessions." If you, like Buffett, are convinced of the long-term power of the Dow, you should read "5 Stocks to Retire On." Your long-term wealth could be transformed, even in this uncertain economy. Simply click here now to download this free, no-obligation report.

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