LONDON -- Markets look likely to open broadly unchanged this morning, with futures markets at 7 a.m. EDT predicting a 0.01% opening fall for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) and a 0.12% gain for the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) .
Economic data that could influence trading today includes September's housing starts, which are expected to have increased by 20,000 to 770,000 after rising by a similar amount in August. A strong result here could help confirm that the housing market is starting to recover and support investor confidence.
Yesterday's earnings reports included downbeat updates from IBM and Intel, both of which reported after the bell. IBM's share price was down by more than 3% in after-hours trading, and if these losses hold, then this fall alone would translate to an opening fall of about 57 points for the Dow. Intel shares were also lower in premarket trading this morning.
However, today sees another round of earnings reports, including updates from Bank of America, PepsiCo, and Abbott Laboratories, with American Express due to follow after the bell tonight. Banking results have generally been fairly strong so far, but Bank of America is expected to report a quarterly loss of $0.07 per share. Despite this, its shares are up 2.7% so far this week and were broadly unchanged in premarket trading.
In Europe, markets remained positive this morning after Moody's announced overnight that it would not downgrade Spain's credit rating to junk status. Instead, the credit-rating agency confirmed its negative outlook for Spain and warned that it would lose its investment-grade rating if it were forced to resort to a full bailout and lost access to bond markets. Spanish and Italian bonds immediately rallied, with the yield on 10-year Spanish government bonds falling to 5.5%, the lowest level since April.
At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was up 0.2%, the CAC was up 0.4%, the FTSE MIB was up 1.2%, and the IBEX was up 1.7%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) made a more cautious start ahead of the latest U.K. unemployment figures, but after data showed a fall in the headline rate from 8.1% to 7.9%, the market rallied and was up by 0.5% at 7 a.m. EDT.
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