LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) may open higher this morning, according to futures markets, which are suggesting an opening gain of around 0.15% for both indexes.
Thursday is weekly jobless claims day, and this week's figures are due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, with a rise to 370,000 expected from last week's 365,000. Also due this morning are June's trade deficit and wholesale inventories readings. The U.S. trade deficit is expected to have shrunk slightly in June, dropping from $48.7 billion to $47.5 billion, while wholesale inventories are expected to have risen by 0.3%, as they did in May.
Companies whose shares may be active in trading today include Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which posted disappointing quarterly earnings and a $1.55 billion quarterly loss after the close last night. Kohl's is expected to post results before markets open this morning, with Nordstrom and NVIDIA reporting after the close tonight.
Overnight figures from China showed that inflation there has fallen to its lowest level for 30 months, with industrial production growth dropping from 9.5% in June to 9.2%. While Western economies would welcome such growth, it does highlight the risk of a slowdown in China, which could weaken stock markets worldwide.
However, U.S. markets continue to be buoyant, and CNN's Fear & Greed Index reached 73 (greed) at the close last night. Readings above 75 signify "extreme greed," and historically, peaks above 80 have preceded a correction and a period of more negative sentiment.
In Europe, markets were fairly quiet this morning, with some key indexes weakening slightly following another batch of disappointing economic data. The European Central Bank has cut its 2013 growth forecasts for the eurozone from 1% to 0.6% and has updated its forecast for this year to indicate a 0.3% contraction.
In its latest report, the ECB stressed the ongoing downside risks in the eurozone and said that it was now "crucial that Member States implement their country-specific recommendations with determination."
At 7 a.m. ET, the DAX was 0.7% lower, the CAC was down 0.3%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.9%, and Spain's IBEX was 0.8% lower. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was down just 0.1%, helped by the ongoing rebound of Standard Chartered, up 3.5% this morning, and by decent volumes on would-be merger partners Glencore International and Xstrata.
Legendary investor Warren Buffett rarely buys U.K. shares, but the world's third-richest man recently invested more than $1 billion in a major FTSE 100 company. This famous British name has global expansion potential, and you can discover the identity of the company and the price Buffett paid in this special exclusive report. Best of all, the report is free -- so download it today while it's still available.
Are you looking to profit from this uncertain economy? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is The Motley Fool's latest report. We urge you to read it today -- your wealth could be transformed. Click here now to request your free, no-obligation copy. The Motley Fool is helping Britain invest. Better.
Further investment opportunities:
The article Cautious Start Expected for Markets originally appeared on Fool.com.
Roland Head owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Standard Chartered. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of NVIDIA. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing puts on NVIDIA. 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.
Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.