What Could Move the Markets Today

Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) started off the week with a small 0.11% loss, and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) followed with a 0.39% loss. Today, look for earnings from Pfizer (NYS: PFE) , as well as the report on April car sales. Here's a quick look on how these could affect the market.

Changing prescriptions
Today's quarterly report from Pfizer will give investors a peek at how major shifts within the company have been doing. While losing its Lipitor patent helped to cut net income in half last quarter, the company aims to cut $4 billion in expenses through 2012 and just sold its nutrition division to Nestle for more than $11 billion. Pfizer also looks forward to revenue from new drugs, including the FDA-approved Inlyta, developed to treat kidney cancer, and two drugs currently under review -- Eliquis, developed to help treat complications from irregular heartbeats, and bosutinib, developed to help treat leukemia.

Competitor Merck (NYS: MRK) delivered lower revenue but barely beat earnings per share in its quarterly report on Friday. Bolstering Merck's revenue were its diabetes drugs, Januvia and Janumet, which grew their sales more than 20% and now account for more than 10% of Merck's revenue. And like Pfizer, Merck looks to its drug pipeline, which includes odanacatib, developed to treat osteoporosis and still in trials.

Car sales
Representing about 25% of total retail sales, car and truck sales can be a good indicator of total consumer demand. Forecasters estimate an increase in sales of 2% over last year, with GM (NYS: GM) continuing to lead market share at an estimated 17.5%. This however, would be a decline from GM's market share last year of 20%, with Toyota and Nissan grabbing GM's loss. Improved numbers at home and in Asia could help the carmakers, like GM, that struggle to turn profits in Europe's economic mess. So far, auto sales have yet to return to their pre-recession levels:

US Auto Sales Chart
US Auto Sales Chart

US Auto Sales data by YCharts.

Further in the week
reports earnings on Thursday, and investors will also be watching the employment report released on Friday. While new jobless claims have been higher than analysts have expected, the market expects the unemployment rate to remain at 8.2%.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorDan Newmanholds no shares of the companies mentioned above. Follow him on Twitter, where he goes by @TMFHelloNewman.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of General Motors and Pfizer. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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