LONDON -- Markets look likely to open broadly flat on Friday. As of 7:30 a.m. EST, stock futures indicate an opening fall of 0.3% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) and a loss of 0.2% for the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) . Both indexes have now fallen by more than 5% over the last month.
Yesterday's positive economic news didn't distract markets from worrying about the fiscal cliff, but today's economic calendar includes several more items that could help. At 8:30 a.m. EST, October's import price index figures are due, with no change expected after September's 1.1% rise. This will be followed at 9:55 a.m. EST by the preliminary reading of November's University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which is expected to show a reading of 83 compared with 82.6 in October. Finally, at 10 a.m. EST, September's wholesale inventories are due, with analysts forecasting an increase of 0.4% compared with a rise of 0.5% in August.
In corporate news, quarterly earnings reports are expected from J. C. Penney, which is expected to report a loss of $0.07 per share for the last quarter, according to a Reuters survey. Also due to report are Ameren, Warner Chilcott, Constellation Energy and Brookfield Real Estate. Shares in daily deals website Groupon were lower in pre-market trading and may fall when markets open, after the company reported disappointing quarterly results after the bell last night. Shares in priceline.com could also be active after the company announced a $1.8 billion acquisition of Kayak late on Thursday.
In Europe, markets slid lower this morning as fears over Greece's problems and the fiscal cliff outweighed overnight news from China, where a surprise rise in industrial output and fall in inflation helped Asian markets pare losses yesterday.
At 7:40 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 1%, the CAC was down 0.6%, the FTSE MIB was down 1%, and the IBEX was down 1.3%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) was down 0.48%, with the market supported by risers including motor insurance group Admiral Group and sugar giant Tate & Lyle. International Consolidated Airlines Group, which owns British Airways and Spain's Iberia, was also higher after announcing a restructuring plan intended to return the loss-making Spanish airline to profit.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett does not own shares in IAG, but he did recently invest $1 billion in an FTSE 100 blue-chip brand, expanding his stake in the company to more than 5%. The business concerned is a famous British name with global expansion potential -- and you can discover the identity of the company and the price he paid in this special exclusive report. Best of all, the report is free -- so download it today while it's still available.
Are you looking to profit from this uncertain economy? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is The Motley Fool's latest report. We urge you to read it today -- your wealth could be transformed. Click here now to request your free, no-obligation copy. The Motley Fool is helping Britain invest. Better.
Further investment opportunities:
- Why American Investors Should Buy British Shares
- Eight Stocks Held By Britain's Super Investor
- The Market's Top Sectors