LONDON -- At 7 a.m. EST, stock futures indicated an opening gain of 0.16% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) and a gain of 0.27% for the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) .
Today's economic calendar includes the all-important weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EST. Forecasts suggest that new claims rose to 375,000 last week, up from 355,000 the previous week. Also at 8:30 a.m. EST, October's consumer price index is expected to show that price rises moderated in October, gaining 0.1% after rising by 0.6% in September, while the New York Fed Empire State manufacturing survey is expected to show that manufacturing shrank further in November, with the index dropping to -6.7 from -6.2 in October.
Corporate earnings season continues, and Wal-Mart is due to report before markets open, along with fellow retailer Target. Analysts are expecting third-quarter earnings of $1.07 per share for Wal-Mart and $0.77 per share for Target. Contract drilling specialists Helmerich & Payne reported record full-year earnings of $5.27 per diluted share on revenue of $3.2 billion this morning, suggesting its shares could rise when markets open.
Tech heavyweights Dell, Autodesk, Marvell Technology, and Intuit are all scheduled to report after the closing bell tonight, with Dell expected to deliver third-quarter earnings of $0.40 per share and Intuit expected to report a loss.
Most major markets were lower in Europe this morning as new statistics confirmed that the eurozone fell back into recession during the last quarter, with only Spanish stocks gaining after EU commissioner Olli Rehn appeared to suggest that no further concessions would be required if Spain were to request a bailout. At 7:30 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 0.96%, the CAC was down 0.48%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.34%, and the IBEX was up 0.3%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) touched 10-week lows this morning and was down by 0.6% at 7:38 a.m. EST. The biggest fallers in London were oil services specialist John Wood Group, which fell 5% after missing out on inclusion in the MSCI index, and life insurer Resolution, which slumped 4.5% after releasing a mixed trading update.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett doesn't hold shares in Wood Group or Resolution, 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.