LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) may open slightly lower this morning, according to futures markets at 7 a.m. EDT. A downbeat assessment of global growth prospects from the International Monetary Fund has depressed markets today, especially in Europe.
September's NFIB Small Business Index was released at 7 a.m. EDT. Despite expectations for a rise from 92.9 to 93.5, the small-business optimism index slid to 92.8. Also due are the ICSC-Goldman Sachs weekly chain-store sales index and the Johnson Redbook weekly retail sales index.
In company news, earnings season gets under way today, with the first of the big hitters, aluminum giant Alcoa, due to report after the bell tonight. Yum! Brands is also due to report later today.
In Europe, most major markets fell this morning following the publication of the International Monetary Fund's latest report. The IMF said the downside risks to the world's economy were worse than in April 2012 or September 2011 and predicted 3.3% global growth this year, down from 3.5% in July. The IMF also cut its 2013 global growth forecast from 3.9% to 3.6% and said that it expects the eurozone economy to expand by 0.2% in 2013, down from 0.7% in July.
In Greece, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is making her first visit to Athens since 2007 today, signaling her support for Greece staying within the eurozone. However, the trip is not expected to give rise to any decisive announcements, and concerns over the need for a second writedown on Greek government debt remain.
At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was down 0.5%, the CAC was up 0.1%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.3%, and the IBEX was down 0.9%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) was down 0.3%. Miners including Rio Tinto and Anglo American were leading the gainers and preventing the index from falling further, buoyed by reports that China's central bank had injected another round of stimulus cash into the country's money markets.
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