Dow May Open Higher, but HP Could Plunge

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) may open up by 0.11% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) may open a single point higher. Investors are cautious ahead of today's jobs figures, but yesterday's gains helped drive the CNN Fear & Greed Index back into "greed" territory: The sentiment indicator closed at 62 yesterday, up from 53 the previous day.

In Europe, markets edged slightly higher this morning, as the absence of new economic data meant that investors focused on corporate news and renewed hopes for Chinese growth. At 7 a.m. EDT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.32%, Germany's DAX was up 0.51% and the French CAC 40 was 0.49% higher.

Thursday is jobless-claims day, and last week's disappointing jobs figures mean investors will be focusing more closely than usual on this key metric when it is published at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Consensus forecasts indicate that 360,000 new jobless claims may have been made last week, down slightly from 385,000 in the previous week. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, March's import price index is expected to show a 0.5% fall in import prices following a 1.1% rise in February.

Companies due to update the market this morning include Costco Wholesale, which said this morning that like-for-like sales for the five weeks to April 7 rose by 4%, missing a Reuters forecast of 5.2%. Costco's total sales rose by 7% over the same period to $9.67 billion from $9.07 billion last year. Before the opening bell, quarterly results are expected from Commerce Bancshares, iGate Corporation, Pier 1 Imports, and Rite Aid, among others.

Stocks that could be actively traded this morning include Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft, which all fell heavily in after-hours trading last night following news that global PC sales dropped by 14% during the last quarter. HP shares were 4.1% lower in premarket trading, while Microsoft was down by 3.4% and Intel was 1.9% lower. Housewares retailer Bed Bath & Beyond may also be actively traded after it posted earnings growth of 6.5% in its fiscal fourth quarter but said that earnings for the current quarter would be between $0.88 and $0.94 per share, below consensus forecasts of $0.95 per share. Bed Bath & Beyond shares closed 1.6% higher yesterday and were 1.5% higher in premarket trading this morning.

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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