One Reason the Dow Could Move Higher Today

Despite the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (INDEX: ^DJI) 0.6% drop last Friday, there was one piece of good news hidden that day. Buoyed by lower gas prices and improved hiring, the Consumer Confidence Report from the University of Michigan reached its highest level in more than four years at 79.3, up from 76.4 in April. The news helped Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) buck the trend on Friday, when the stock gained 0.4% and reached a new 52-week high. Another promising report from the Conference Board report, due out at 10 a.m. EDT, could help send stocks higher. The market is expecting a reading of 69 from the report after it hit 69.2 last month.

Dow stocks look set to open higher, with futures trading up 0.6%. Markets gained in both Europe and Asia overnight, despite 10-year Spanish bond rates rising to 6.5%. Consumer confidence across the pond seemed to be increasing as well, as British retail sales reached their highest level in 13 months. In Spain, however, retail sales fell 9.8% -- its 22nd straight monthly drop -- as the Iberian country struggles with a recession. Market-watchers also appear to be hopeful of increased Chinese economic stimulus.

In other news, JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) has sold about $25 billion in profitable securities, yielding net income of an estimated $1 billion, to help make up for the multibillion-dollar loss from its blown-up trade revealed a few weeks ago. The sales could put a dent in long-term profitability, and some analysts now believe the loss from the bad derivatives trade could balloon to $5 billion.

Finally, one more economic report to watch for comes out today at 9 a.m. EDT: the Case-Shiller 20-City Index. The report covers housing prices in some of the nation's 20 biggest metro areas and has a two-month lag. The market expects a 2.8% loss after February's drop of 3.5%. Housing starts in April came in well ahead of expectations, so signs could be pointing to a turnaround in the housing market.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorJeremy Bowmanholds no positions in the companies in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. 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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