Dow to Start Lower on Mixed News


LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is expected to open slightly lower this morning as mixed news from abroad affects trading.

Overnight saw a better-than-expected flash Purchasing Managers' Index for China's manufacturing sector, with the index rising to 49.5 from 48.2 in June, suggesting that a return to growth could be possible. In Europe, the news was less positive as rating agency Moody's downgraded its outlook for Germany to negative, citing increased risk of a eurozone breakup.

Economic data due today includes the latest Markit PMI at 9 a.m. EDT and May's Federal Housing Finance Agency home prices, which are expected to show a small increase. Today's corporate-earnings calendar is loaded with big names, including DuPont, Whirlpool, and Air Products, which all reported earnings slightly below expectations before the bell this morning.

Also due before the bell are Lockheed Martin, Reynolds American, Lexmark, AT&T, and UPS, with many others also scheduled. Perhaps the biggest name of all is Apple, but it isn't due to release its quarterly earnings until after markets close tonight. Other companies that may be active in trading this morning include Texas Instruments and Volterra Semiconductor, both of which released quarterly results after the bell last night.

In Europe this morning, the focus was firmly on Europe, with China's improved manufacturing outlook failing to lift sentiment. Spain's most recent bond auction highlighted the country's escalating problems; its six-month bonds sold for an average yield of 3.7%, up from less than 1% in March. Following the auction, the yield on existing 10-year bonds rose to a new high of 7.6%, meaning that the likelihood that Spain will need a full bailout continues to rise. At 7 a.m. EDT, Spain's IBEX index was down by just more than 2%.

In London, positive news from China didn't make much of an impact, and the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) remained broadly flat through the morning, balanced by a mixture of good corporate earnings and negative economic sentiment. The top riser was chemicals firm Croda International, which released strong results, while the biggest faller was insurer Aviva, which is heavily exposed to the eurozone crisis.

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