Dow Flat Ahead of Jobless Report

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) may open down by one point this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) may open 0.9 points lower. Both indexes closed at new record highs yesterday, and are around 15% up on the year to date.

European markets edged back from recent highs this morning, as investors took profits and several large stocks went ex-dividend. In London, investors were cautious ahead of today's policy announcement from the Bank of England, when it confirmed, as expected, that interest rates would remain unchanged at 0.5%, and the Bank's asset purchase program would be maintained at 375 billion pounds.

Today's key U.S. economic report is due at 8:30 a.m., when the weekly initial jobless claims figures will be published. Consensus estimates suggest that 335,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, up from 324,000 the previous week. At 10 a.m., March wholesale inventories will be released; they are expected to have risen by 0.4%, after falling 0.3% in February.

AES reported a 30% drop in adjusted first-quarter earnings this morning, while Precision Castparts reported a 25% increase in fiscal fourth-quarter revenues compared to the same period last year, and a 22% increase in earnings per share, which rose to $2.82. Windstream reported that its first-quarter revenues dropped 3% to $1.5 billion and said that adjusted earnings per share fell 23% to $0.10, from $0.13 for the same period last year.

Other firms due to report before the opening bell this morning include NVIDIADean Foods, Carlyle Group, Cooper Tire & Rubber, Coeur d'Alene Mines, and Apache. Companies due to report later today include priceline.com, DISH Network, Cablevision, and Molycorp.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was 18% higher in pre-market trading, after the firm reported earnings above expectations last night, and announced that its deal with Starbucks would be extended for at least another five years. Tesla stock was also 18% higher before the bell after its breakeven results pleased investors, while Groupon stock was up 11% in pre-market trading after it beat analysts' first-quarter sales estimates. News Corp. was 2.8% ahead in early trading, after reporting profits ahead of expectations last night, while video-games maker Activision Blizzard was down 6.3% after it warned of a disappointing second-half outlook.

Finally, let's not forget that the Dow's daily movements can add up to some serious long-term gains. Indeed, Warren Buffett recently wrote: "The Dow advanced from 66 to 11,497 in the 20th century, a staggering 17,320% increase that materialized despite four costly wars, a Great Depression and many recessions."

If you, like Buffett, are convinced about the long-term power of the Dow, you should read "5 Stocks to Retire On." Your long-term wealth could be transformed, even in this uncertain economy. Simply click here now to download this free, no-obligation report.

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