Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Stock index futures as of 7 a.m. EDT suggest that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) could open lower by 0.36% this morning following mixed trading in world markets. Overnight, European stocks fell from their 10 -week high after Japanese economic data showed surprising weakness in the world's third-largest economy. Japan grew at a 2.6% annualized rate in the second quarter, slower than the 3.6% economists had expected. The country's Nikkei index finished the day down by 0.7%.
But it wasn't all bad news overseas. China's Shanghai Composite index leapt 2.4% overnight to notch a two-month high. Economic data continued to point to stabilization in the world's second-largest economy and perhaps even a return to more robust growth in the quarters ahead.
That could provide further lift to Dow component Alcoa (NYSE:AA), which was among the index's best performers last week after logging a 3.13% gain on strong trade data out of China. The Chinese market is a significant source of global demand for aluminum, as well as other commodities, and Alcoa would be pleased to see a reversal of the slowdown in economic growth there.
Disney (NYSE:DIS) could also see active trading today, as the shares might attract bargain seekers after ending last week down nearly 3%. The House of Mouse just wrapped up a three-day convention for fans over the weekend that included hints to a possible Star Wars expansion at its theme parks. After Disney bought Lucasfilm last year for $4.1 billion, investors and fans alike have been watching closely for signs of how Disney plans to use the powerhouse brand ahead of its first new film release in 2015. Also on Disney's radar is its upcoming launch of a major new video game, Infinity, due to hit shelves later this week.
Finally, shares in Home Depot (NYSE:HD) may see some interest today after rival Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) was upgraded by Canaccord and given a raised $48 price target. Home Depot is trading at a slight discount to Lowe's on a P/E basis, but both stocks have ridden the rising housing market higher and are sitting near their year-to-date highs. They're up 30% so far in 2013, versus the 19% that the broader market has logged.
Those solid returns help put last week's 1.5% market drop in context: Even if the mild Dow sell-off continues into its second week, long-term investors are looking at impressive returns just seven months into the year.