The Dow: Surges, While Traders Await GDP Figures

LONDON -- Following yesterday's strong rally on the back of positive housing data, attention this morning will turn to first-quarter GDP figures. Surveys at Reuters and Bloomberg suggest the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. may have improved at an annualised 2.5% -- below the 3% indicated three months ago.

Ahead of the GDP numbers, few traders were prepared to bet on the direction of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) . During early pre-market trade, the futures market priced in a minor loss to keep the benchmark index around the 13,200 mark.

Among individual stocks, (NAS: AMZN) could be active at the open. After yesterday's close, the online retailer revealed revenue up 34% to $13 billion and operating income down 40% to $192 million. The stock jumped 12% to $220 during after-hours trading.

Meanwhile, Starbucks (NAS: SBUX) could be an early casualty during today's session. Although the coffee chain said late yesterday that its Q2 earnings had jumped 18%, a disappointing outlook statement sent its stock tumbling 5% to $57 in post-close trade.

Other stocks that could be active at today's open include Ford Motor (NYS: F) , Merck, and Procter & Gamble, all of whom publish results before the bell.

Over in Europe, the markets opened weaker today in response to Standard & Poor's decision to cut Spain's credit rating for the second time this year. The ratings agency lowered the country's credit status from "A" to "BBB+," and Madrid-traded stocks initially fell by more than 2%.

However, the early losses were mostly erased, with Spain and most other European bourses trading flat at lunchtime. News from Italy's month-end bond auction, set for later today, may cause fresh volatility.

In the UK, corporate results from the media sector helped the benchmark FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) strike a small advance. In particular, the publisher of the Financial Times, Pearson, registered modest share-price gains after revealing first-quarter sales up 11%. Elsewhere, WPP, the world's largest advertising group, climbed higher following a better-than-budgeted Q1 profit.

However, the progress at neither Pearson nor WPP has been attractive enough to encourage Warren Buffett to invest more than $1 billion. The legendary investor recently bought a famous British large cap with global expansion potential -- and you can discover the name of the company and the price he paid in this latest free report.

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At the time thisarticle was published Maynard Paton owns no shares of the companies mentioned. 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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