LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) may open down by 0.22% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) may open 0.28% lower. CNN's Fear & Greed Index has stabilized at 32, or "fear," after closing at 28 yesterday.
European markets fell sharply on opening today after Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed down by 6.4% earlier this morning, plunging the index into a bear market. In London, the biggest faller was bailed-out banking group Royal Bank of Scotland, which was down by 3.9% at 7:40 a.m. EDT following last night's announcement that CEO Stephen Hester is to leave the firm ahead of its reprivatization. However, the FTSE's losses were tempered by gains for the battered resource sector as the morning progressed, with Rio Tinto and Fresnillo among the biggest risers. As of 7:40 a.m. EDT the FTSE 100 was down 0.84%, while Germany's DAX was down 1.4%.
U.S. markets are expected to fall at the open, but the extent of the losses may be affected by several economic reports due before markets open. At 8:30 a.m. EDT, the latest weekly jobless-claims report is expected to show that 350,000 new claims were made last week, up slightly from 346,000 the previous week. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, retail sales are expected to have risen by 0.5% in May, compared to a 0.1% rise in April, while import prices are expected to have fallen by 0.2% in May after dropping 0.5% in April. At 10 a.m. EDT, after markets have opened, April's business inventories are expected to have risen by 0.3% after remaining unchanged during March.
The corporate-earnings calendar is thin again today, but several stocks could be actively traded this morning. Supermarket operator Safeway rose by 21% to $28 in premarket trading this morning after announcing a $5.7 billion cash deal to sell its Canadian operations to Canadian chain Sobeys. Safeway said it would use the proceeds to reduce debt by $2 billion and buy back stock. H&R Block may edge higher this morning after reporting a 37% increase in full-year adjusted earnings per share after the close last night, while SeaWorld Entertainment may also be in demand after announcing last night that it would begin paying a quarterly dividend.
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