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LONDON -- Wall Street looks set for a cautious but positive start this morning, with futures markets expecting the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) to open up by around 33 points. With no major company earnings due today, trading is likely to be influenced by domestic economic data and news from Europe.
The first item of economic data due today is May's trade deficit, which economists expect may have contracted slightly, thanks to falling oil prices. Following this, at 10 a.m. EDT, wholesale inventories for May will be published. But the main item of interest is likely to be the minutes of the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting, which are due to be released at 2 p.m. EDT. These should provide some insight into the level of concern that lay behind the Fed's latest stimulus package and provide clues about how likely a third dose of quantitative easing may be.
In company news, Charles Schwab and hotels group Marriott International are due to report earnings later today. Chubb could be active when markets open, following the insurer's announcement last night that it expects to take at least $200 million in pretax losses in the second quarter, thanks to weather-related claims.
In Europe, the big news this morning was Spain's latest austerity package, which includes 65 billion euros in cuts over the next 2.5 years, together with an increase in sales tax from 18% to 21%. The latest round of cuts forms part of the bailout deal reached in recent negotiations, and is a precondition of the EU's ongoing support for Spain. However, there are concerns that it will simply deepen the country's recession and cause the country's 24% unemployment rate to rise further.
Despite this, Spanish stocks rose on the news, with the IBEX 35 up by 1.4% at 7 a.m. EDT. Spanish bond yields fell, and the German DAX index rose by 0.65%, but most other European markets remained broadly unchanged on the day. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) was down just 0.1% at lunchtime. Luxury clothing brand Burberry (LSE: BRBY.L ) was the biggest faller, losing more than 6% after its latest quarterly figures failed to match expectations, despite delivering 11% growth.
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