How the Dow Might Open Today

Following two solid days of gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) may open flat this morning as traders continue to assess yesterday's Fed statement and await further corporate news. Mixed developments in Europe also encouraged the futures market to keep steady in early pre-market trade.

After the Fed's Open Market Committee indicated rates should stay steady until 2014, economic attention will today turn to weekly jobless claims and pending home sales. Among individual stocks, active names could include ExxonMobil, which is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $2.09 per share before the open, and Pepsico, which might unveil earnings of $0.67 per share.

Over in Europe, most markets registered small losses this morning as an index of the region's consumer sentiment declined more than forecast. The Spanish bourse, however, slipped 2% as further worries about the country's bonds surfaced. One results highlight came from German car manufacturer Volkswagen, which motored 6% higher after beating quarterly estimates. Greater sales at the group's Audi division helped profits accelerate 10%.

In the UK, several blue-chip names issued first-quarter numbers to push the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) modestly higher. In particular, Unilever (NYS: UL) , the company behind Axe deodorants and Slim Fast shakes, reported sales jumping 12%. Its London-traded shares gained up to 4%.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell (NYS: RDS.A) was another FTSE winner, rallying 2% following details of a $7.3 billion first-quarter profit. But the ADRs of AstraZeneca (NYS: AZN) may come under pressure today. The UK pharma's shares slid 5% in London after announcing Q1 earnings down 19% and the departure of its CEO.

Other British blue chips with Q1 numbers included and .

However, none of these British large caps have been attractive enough to encourage Warren Buffett to invest more than $1 billion. The legendary investor recently bought a famous UK blue chip with global expansion potential -- and you can discover the name of the company and the price he paid in this latest free report.

Back home, earnings season will continue tonight, with and Starbucks among those issuing releases after the close.

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At the time thisarticle was published Maynard Paton owns no shares of the companies mentioned. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Unilever. 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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