European markets made little progress this morning ahead of today's European Central Bank interest rate announcement, which many analysts expect could include a 0.25% cut to the bank's current 0.75% refinancing rate. This morning's eurozone economic reports were also downbeat: The eurozone manufacturing PMI fell to 46.7 in April, down slightly from 46.8 in March and indicating continued contraction. In London, the FTSE 100 was broadly unchanged as gains for Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group, which both posted positive quarterly updates, were canceled out by falls for heavyweight miners including BHP Billiton and Randgold Resources.
Investors in the U.S. will also be focused on the ECB's decision, which is due at 7:45 a.m. EDT, but will be closely watching the news from home. The latest weekly jobless-claims report is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT and is expected to show that new claims rose to 345,000 last week, up from 339,000 the previous week. Other data due at 8:30 a.m. EDT today includes the Federal trade deficit for March, which is expected to have fallen to $42 billion from $43 billion, and the first-quarter productivity report, which is expected to show that productivity rose by 0.9% in the first quarter of this year after falling 1.9% in the final quarter of last year.
Corporate earnings will also be a big draw today, with a number of big names scheduled to report. Highlights due before the opening bell include General Motors, which is expected to report earnings of $0.54 per share. Cardinal Health reported a 28% increase in adjusted fiscal third-quarter earnings per share, which rose to $1.20 from $0.94 for the same period last year despite a 9% fall in revenue. Other names reporting before the open include Kellogg, International Paper, Actavis, Becton Dickinson, and Marsh & McLennan, while Dole Food, Estee Lauder, Kraft Foods, American International Group, Fortune Brands Home Security, and Beazer Homes are also among a long list of companies scheduled to deliver results later today.
Facebook stock may rise when trading starts after the social-networking firm reported a 38% increase in first-quarter sales, which rose to $1.46 billion, beating analysts' expectations of $1.44 billion. Mobile revenue accounted for 30% of advertising sales, up from 23% one year ago. Facebook stock is 1.5% higher in premarket trading this morning.
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