5 Things to Know Ahead of the Opening Bell

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) will start the week flat, rising just two points at the opening bell, according to stock index futures as of 7:50 a.m. EDT.

The latest Employment Situation report, delayed by the government shutdown, is set for release tomorrow morning. That report is expected to show a gain of roughly 180,000 jobs for September. Even if the data points to strong employment growth, the economic picture is murky enough that the Federal Reserve may keep its stimulus program intact for the time being.

With that bigger picture in mind, here are a few individual stock stories to watch for in today's market.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) might be paying a record $13 billion in fines, but that won't solve all of its legal and regulatory problems. The bank reached a tentative deal with government investigators over the weekend to close several civil probes looking into its actions during the financial crisis, according to The Wall Street Journal. Still, that massive settlement wouldn't affect the separate criminal investigation that's also underway. JPMorgan's stock is down 0.4% in premarket trading.

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) turned in a 6% boost in quarterly earnings to $1.52 a share this morning -- a penny better than analysts had expected. Mickey D's saw continued sluggishness in its comparable sales, which rose by less than 1% globally. The company isn't too optimistic about near-term business dynamics, noting in a statement that it expects the tough sales environment that has dampened earnings to persist. McDonald's stock is down 2.1% in premarket trading.

AT&T (NYSE: T  ) could see active trading today after it announced an agreement to lease thousands of wireless towers to Crown Castle International. The telecom also plans to sell about 600 towers to Crown outright. AT&T will receive $4.85 billion in cash up front from the deal, which is about equal to the total amount of cash it had sitting on its books at last count. AT&T stock is up 1.6% in premarket trading.

Finally, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) is trading at an all-time high on optimism that its earnings report this afternoon will not disappoint. Analysts have been ratcheting up their profit expectations lately now pegging the company's earnings per share at $0.49, well ahead of the $0.04 it booked in the year-ago quarter. Revenue is expected to grow by about 22% to $1.1 billion. Still, subscriber growth will be key for the company to show that its ambitious strategy is working. Netflix stock is up 1% in premarket trading.

Know Your Dividends
Dividend stocks like McDonald's can make you rich. While they don't garner the notoriety of highflying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of the quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts sat down to identify nine rock-solid dividend stocks in this free report. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.


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