Dow Expected to Open Lower Today

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LONDON -- Futures markets are expecting the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) to open more than 80 points lower this morning as fears of weakening economic growth at home and abroad dominate the markets.

The first domestic news today will be this week's jobless claims figures and June's import price index, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Analysts are expecting a fall in new claims from 374,000 to 365,000, but given the recent run of below-forecast figures, this may not be a reliable guide. The import price index is expected to show a 1.9% fall in prices, a bigger drop than May's -0.3%. Following this comes June's federal budget at 2 p.m. EDT.

If any of these figures prove disappointing, the Dow and the S&P 500 are likely to fall as a result. Tomorrow is due to be a big day for company earnings, with JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo both due to deliver before the markets open. Today's news will be dominated by smaller companies, with Commerce Bancshares, Fastenal, and Progressive all due to release figures.


European news is unlikely to provide much positive impetus today. Markets opened this morning to the news that PSA Peugeot Citroen, France's biggest carmaker, will close a factory and shed 8,000 jobs as it faces the reality of falling demand. Excess capacity in the European car industry has been apparent for some time, and Peugeot's shares unsurprisingly rose by around 1% on the news. Peugeot is currently losing 200 million euros per month, so decisive action was necessary, although the company may well face industrial unrest as it tries to implement the changes.

The gloom in France was made worse by the news that French industrial output fell by 2.1% in May. However, these figures also brought some good news: Overall eurozone industrial output rose by 0.6% in May, fueled by a 1.5% increase in German output and a very welcome 4.1% increase in Portugal. This suggests that the smaller Iberian nation may be having more success implementing its austerity program than its larger neighbour, Spain.

Overall, European markets fell this morning, with the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) dropping 1.25% mostly thanks to widespread falls in big mining shares, which have had their target prices cut by Credit Suisse. At 7 a.m. EDT, the German DAX was down by around 1.2%, the CAC by 0.6%, Italy's FTSE MIB by 1.5%, and Spain's IBEX by 2%.

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At the time this article was published Roland Head does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase. The Fool owns shares of and has created a covered strangle position in Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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