LONDON -- After closing at a fifth consecutive record high on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) may retreat slightly and open down by 0.2% this morning, according to stock index futures. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) may open 0.21% lower. The CNN Fear & Greed Index has returned to "extreme greed" after closing above 80 for the last two days, signaling a renewed uplift in investor sentiment.
Highlights of today's economic calendar include the NFIB small-business confidence index for February, which ticked up 1.9 points to 90.8. Though an improvement, the increase only puts the index around the 2008 average. At 2 p.m. EDT, February's federal budget is due.
Meanwhile, Costco Wholesale kicked off today's corporate reports with a surprise 18% beat on its second quarter earnings, which came in at $1.24 per share on revenue of $24.3 billion, beating analysts' expectations of $1.06 per share. Other companies due to report before the markets open include Raven Industries, Bon-Ton Stores, Stage Stores, and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals.
Stocks that may be actively traded when markets open include Boeing after Ireland's Independent newspaper reported that Irish airline Ryanair may have signed a deal to buy 200 aircraft from Boeing. Yum! Brands may also rise after gaining 5.5% in premarket trading following an update from the company indicating that same-store sales in China fell by 20% in the first quarter -- less than the 25% forecast by analysts.
In Europe, markets were largely unchanged, with investors digesting the news that U.K. industrial output fell by 1.2% in January, increasing the likelihood of a triple-dip recession. U.K. GDP fell in the last quarter of 2012, and today's news pushed the pound down half a cent to a new low of $1.485 against the dollar. Also in focus was a fall in German inflation, which dropped to 1.5% in February from 1.7% the previous month. The combination of these factors has helped to raise investors' hopes that the Bank of England and European Central Bank may now consider further stimulus measures.
At 8 a.m. EDT, European markets were flat: The DAX was down 0.09%, the CAC 40 was up 0.08%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.04%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.05%. In London, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) was up 0.05%, led by copper miner Antofagasta (LSE:ANTO), which gained 5% after announcing a special dividend payment that doubles its total dividend for 2012. Antofagasta's revenue also came in above expectations after the company achieved record production levels that overcame the effects of weaker copper prices.
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