LONDON -- At 7:50 a.m. EST, stock index futures suggested an opening gain of 0.5% for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) and S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) . Both indexes closed higher on Friday, and stocks could be poised for a rebound in the run-up to Thanksgiving amid hopes that President Obama will deliver a budget agreement with Congress that will avert the risks posed by the fiscal cliff.
Housing features heavily on the economic calendar today. Existing-home sales for October are due at 10 a.m. EST and are expected to remain unchanged from September at 4.75 million, according to a Reuters survey. November's homebuilders' index is also due at 10 a.m. EST and is expected to rise to 42, up from 41 in October.
With no other significant economic data due today, investors are likely to pay close attention to corporate-earnings news. Lowe's (NYSE: LOW ) reported an increase in third-quarter sales and profit this morning. Sales rose by 1.9% to $12.1 billion in the last quarter, while earnings per share matched analysts' expectations at $0.35, up from $0.18 for the same period last year. Lowe's expects to benefit from rebuilding activity post-Sandy, but it left its full-year guidance for flat sales and earnings of $1.64 per share unchanged.
Other companies due to report quarterly results today include Krispy Kreme, Agilent, and Urban Outfitters. In other news, networking giant Cisco Systems has said it will buy privately held cloud-networking specialist Meraki for $1.2 billion. Cisco stock was up slightly in German trading this morning and may be in demand when U.S. markets open.
In Europe, markets rose strongly this morning as optimism builds that the fiscal cliff will be resolved by the end of the year. At 7:45 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.16%, the CAC was up 0.28%, the FTSE MIB was up 1.25%, and the IBEX was down 0.6%. In London, the FTSE (INDEX: ^FTSE ) was down just a few points at 8 a.m. EST. Topping the leaderboard was Barclays, which was up by 2.3% after broker Goldman Sachs upgraded the bank to a "buy" rating.
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