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LONDON -- After closing almost unchanged yesterday, markets are expected to start pre-holiday trading with a whimper: As of 7:30 a.m. EST, stock futures suggest opening gains of just a few points for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) .
A number of key reports will be published today, starting at 8:30 a.m. EST with the latest weekly jobless-claims figures, which are expected to have fallen to 418,000 from 439,000 last week. Jobless claims are being published a day earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Due at 9 a.m. EST is the Markit Flash PMI for November, expected to read 50.8, a slight fall from 51 in October. This will be followed at 9:55 a.m. EST by the final reading of the November University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which is expected to come in at 83.5, down from a preliminary reading of 84.9. Finally, at 10 a.m. EST October's leading indicators are due, with a rise of 0.2% expected after September's 0.6% increase.
Companies due to report earnings today include farm equipment maker Deere, which is expected to report a fourth-quarter profit of $1.88 per share on revenue of $8.9 billion, according to a FactSet poll of analysts.
European investors were disappointed by the failure of eurozone finance ministers to agree on a debt-reduction strategy for Greece. The core disagreement is between the International Monetary Fund, which believes a writedown of Greek sovereign debt held by the public sector is necessary, and eurozone politicians, who will not agree to this. A further meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 26.
European markets were little changed this morning after failing to react to the renewed uncertainty. Such delays have been a regular feature of the eurozone crisis. At 7:40 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.06%, the CAC 40 was up 0.12%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.3%, and the IBEX 35 was up 0.08%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) is flat, with platinum refiner Johnson Matthey leading the losers with a 6.3% drop after unveiling a big fall in half-year sales and profit and downgrading its guidance.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett rarely invests in U.K. stocks, 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.