LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.03%) may open 0.36% higher this morning, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.01%) may open up by 0.4%. Both indexes closed sharply lower yesterday after weaker-than-expected economic data dented investor sentiment and led to a big drop for the CNN Fear & Greed Index, which closed down 13 points at 58.
This morning's trading is likely to be influenced by the Japanese central bank's surprise decision to accelerate its bond-buying program and double its monetary base in the next two years. The Bank of Japan said it would expand its balance sheet from $1.43 trillion to $2.86 trillion by March 2015 by doubling its asset purchases, the majority of which will be long-term government bonds. The bank is targeting inflation of 2% to kick-start growth after years of deflation.
In Europe, markets rose ahead of the European Central Bank announcement due later today, although the ECB is expected to leave interest rates unchanged. The eurozone service sector continued to contract in March, according to the Markit eurozone services PMI, which fell to 46.4 in March from 47.9 in February, indicating that the rate of contraction is increasing. In London, the FTSE 100 was 0.17% lower at the time of writing following the Bank of England's announcement that it would leave both interest rates and its asset purchase program unchanged this month.
In the U.S., today's initial jobless claims report at 8:30 a.m. EDT is likely to be closely watched after yesterday's ADP employment figures came in below expectations. A Reuters survey suggests that 350,000 new jobless claims were made last week, down slightly from 357,000 the previous week. Today's figures are likely to be seen as a leading indicator ahead of tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls and unemployment reports. Meanwhile, this morning's Challenger job-cut report said that layoffs planned by U.S. companies spiked 37% from January to February. However, the cuts were more than offset by planned hiring.
Other economic data due today includes the EIA weekly natural-gas storage report at 10:30 a.m. EDT and the global services PMI at 11 a.m. EDT.
Companies expected to report quarterly earnings before markets open include International Speedway, Jos. A Bank Clothiers, and RPM International. Facebook stock could also be actively traded ahead of today's much-hyped media launch of a new Android-related product -- widely expected to be a Facebook phone. Facebook stock climbed 3.3% yesterday and was 1.2% higher in premarket trading this morning.
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