Dow May Open Higher After Chinese Imports Beat Expectations

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) may open up by 0.29% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) may open 0.26% higher. The Dow closed at a new record high of 14,673.46 yesterday, but the CNN Fear & Greed Index remained almost unmoved at 53, or "neutral."

European markets moved strongly higher this morning after Chinese import and export figures beat analysts' forecasts. Imports rose by 14.1% in March, while exports rose by 10%, boosting trade hopes for European companies. At 7:20 a.m. EDT, the German DAX was up 1.16%, and the French CAC 40 was 1.18% higher. In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.76%, helped by a strong showing from mining firms and financial stocks, which collectively make up the majority of the index's capitalization.

In the U.S. today, investors are likely to focus closely on the minutes of March's Federal Open Markets Committee meeting, which may provide some insight into the current thinking of the Fed's interest rate-setting committee. The minutes are due to be published at 2 p.m. EDT, when details of March's federal budget are also due to be released.

In other news, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported earlier this morning that its weekly mortgage-applications index increased 4.5% following a 4% decline the previous week. The EIA weekly petroleum status report is due at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Companies due to report quarterly earnings before markets open this morning include Constellation Brands, CarMax, MSC Industrial Direct, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Earlier this morning, Fastenal reported quarterly earnings of $0.37 per share, an 8.8% increase on the same period in 2012. Fastenal also announced a $0.20 cash dividend for the second quarter of 2013.

Stocks that may be actively traded today include Herbalife, which slid nearly 4% before markets closed yesterday after it revealed that its auditor, KPMG, was to resign. The decision is the result of insider-trading allegations against the KPMG partner responsible for auditing the nutritional-supplements company, which is already the subject of a war of words between activist investors Carl Icahn and William Ackman. Trading in J.C. Penney shares may also be heavy after the retailer's share price slid a further 12% in trading yesterday. The company's shares have now fallen almost 60% over the last year.

Finally, let's not forget that the Dow's daily movements can add up to 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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