Markets to Open Flat Ahead of Election

LONDON -- Stock markets are expected to open broadly flat this morning, ahead of tomorrow's presidential election. At 7:40 a.m. EST, stock index futures indicated the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) would open at breakeven, while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) is expected to slide 0.1%.

Today's economic calendar is quiet but includes the ISM nonmanufacturing PMI for October, which is expected to show a slight fall from 55.1 in September to 54.5. A number greater than 50 indicates growth.

Earnings season continues, and Time Warner Cable has reported third-quarter earnings per share excluding one-time items of $1.41, missing analysts' consensus estimate of $1.43. The shortfall in earnings owed to Time Warner Cable losing more video subscribers than expected over the last quarter. Health insurer Humana also reported early this morning, unveiling third-quarter earnings of $2.62 per share, down from $2.67 during the same period in 2011. Revenue rose to $9.65 billion from $9.3 billion, and the company raised its 2012 outlook to give full-year earnings guidance between $7.25 and $7.35 per share.

Other companies due to report today include Tesla, Zillow, and oil rig maker Transocean. Shares in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway could also rise this morning: It revealed third-quarter earnings more than 70% higher than the same period last year after markets closed on Friday.

European markets
In Europe, markets slid lower through the morning as investors faced the twin uncertainties of the U.S. presidential election and the forthcoming Greek parliamentary vote on the country's austerity budget, which contains a further 13.5 billion euros of cuts that must be approved before Greece will receive its next round of bailout funding. An initial vote is currently scheduled for Wednesday with a final vote on Sunday, and today sees the start of further strikes across Greece as workers protest against the austerity measures.

As of 7:45 a.m. EST, the DAX is down 0.6%, the CAC is down 1%, the FTSE MIB is down 1.5%, and the IBEX is down 1.8%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) is 0.6% lower, with mining and resource shares the biggest losers, while engineer Weir Group topped the table, rising 3.8% following a strong quarterly update.

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Roland Head owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Transocean and Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Tesla Motors, and Zillow. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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