LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) may open down by a nominal five points this morning. The index has closed higher for the last 10 trading days -- a streak it hasn't matched since 1996. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) may open a single point lower after closing within two points of its all-time closing high yesterday.
After jobless claims came in lower than expected yesterday, will today's data provide another boost to the markets? First up, at 8:30 a.m. EDT, is February's consumer price index, which is expected to be up 0.6% after remaining unchanged in January. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EDT is the Empire State index for March, which is expected to remain unchanged at 10. At 9:15 a.m. EDT, industrial-production data is expected to show that output rose by 0.6% in February after falling by 0.1% in January. Finally, at 9:55 a.m. EDT, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for March is expected to edge higher to 78, up from 77.6 in February.
Cruise ship giant Carnival is due to report earnings before the markets open this morning, but investors' attention may also be focused on U.S. banks, which have recently completed a round of stress tests. Bank of America and Morgan Stanley were both higher in premarket trading after the Federal Reserve approved their capital plans. However, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs were lower after the Fed provided only conditional approval for their plans.
In Europe, markets were mixed this morning as investors waited for news from the EU leaders' summit after preliminary comments yesterday suggested deficit targets might be relaxed in an effort to increase growth and reduce unemployment in the eurozone.
At 7:20 a.m. EDT, the DAX was down 0.12%, the CAC 40 was down 0.76%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.11%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.61%. In London, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) was down 0.45%, dragged lower by the two largest companies in the index, HSBC Holdings and Royal Dutch Shell -- both companies fell by around 1.4%, outweighing gains on broker upgrades for International Consolidated Airlines and ARM Holdings.
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