LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) may open up by 0.23% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) may open 0.11% higher. After posting sharp falls recently, CNN's Fear & Greed Index closed up four points at 46 yesterday, returning to "neutral" territory.

This morning's main European news story was that Italy will soon have a new prime minister: The appointment of Enrico Letta, who is a member of the center-left Democratic Party, is expected to be confirmed later today. European markets stayed firm this morning despite a second monthly fall for Germany's Ifo business confidence index suggesting that Europe's largest economy is slowing. Many commentators now believe the current stock market gains are being driven by hopes that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates at its monthly meeting in May.

In the U.S., today sees the publication of the durable-goods orders report for March at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Analysts' consensus forecasts suggest that orders may have fallen by 3.2% during March after rising by 5.6% during the previous month. Other data due today includes the EIA Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 a.m. EDT, which could influence oil prices after recent falls.

Kicking off a big day for earnings, Procter & Gamble reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.99, up 5% from $0.94 in the same period last year. Other companies that reported early this morning include Eli Lilly, which beat forecasts with earnings of $1.42 per share, and Ford, which beat expectations as well with reported earnings of $0.40 per share, up 14% from the same period last year. Whirlpool, Thermo Fisher Scientific, EMC Corp, and Wyndham Worldwide also reported earnings growth this morning, while Boeing, Sprint Nextel, Motorola Solutions, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Praxair are also due to report before the opening bell.

Yum! Brands may be actively traded when markets open. KFC's parent company beat expectations when it reported earnings last night, leaving the shares 4.8% higher in premarket trading this morning. AT&T may head lower, however: Its shares were down 4% in premarket trading after the company reported last night that it had lost cell phone market share to Verizon Wireless during the first quarter.

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Roland Head has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford, Procter & Gamble, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The Motley Fool owns shares of EMC, Ford, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.