LONDON -- Yesterday's sudden fall in the ISM Manufacturing Index caught New York traders by surprise, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) to close virtually unchanged on a day when most major markets rose.

The markets close at 1 p.m. EDT today ahead of tomorrow's Independence Day holiday, and today's shortened trading session is unlikely to contain any such surprises. The main item of economic data on the morning's agenda is May's factory orders, which are expected to show an increase of 0.1% after a 0.6% fall in April. However, yesterday's shock disappointment may lead to caution before the actual figures are released at 10 a.m. EDT.

Company news is likely to be thin, with earnings season not due to start until next week. Shares that could be active in today's trading session include Ford (NYSE: F), General Motors (NYSE: GM), and Toyota Motor, all of which are due to report June's vehicle sales figures through the day. Microsoft could also feature after it announced the $6.2 billion writedown of its aQuantive, a $6.3 billion advertising acquisition it made in 2007.

In Europe, markets were cautiously positive this morning. New economic data today showed that eurozone factory gate prices fell faster than expected in May, falling by 0.5% instead of 0.3%. The drop is mainly due to recent falls in the price of oil, but it may increase expectations of an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank at its monthly meeting later this week.

In Ireland, investors were cheered by news that their country will be returning to the bond markets earlier than expected, testing the waters with 500 million euros of 90-day bonds later this week. The main French, German, and Italian indexes were all up by around 0.5% in morning trading.

In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was up by 0.25% at 7 a.m. EDT, despite news that the U.K.'s construction sector is contracting once more following an unexpectedly big slowdown in June. Top U.K. risers included Barclays (NYSE: BCS), which gained more than 3% following news that its chief executive, Bob Diamond, has resigned over the LIBOR-fixing scandal.

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Roland Head owns no shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford Motor and General Motors Company. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.