Markets May Open Higher on Euro GDP


LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are expected to open higher this morning, according to futures markets at 7 a.m. EDT.

This morning saw better-than-expected second-quarter GDP figures for major Eurozone economies, while at home a raft of new economic data due today is expected to show modest improvements on last month. At 8:30 a.m. EDT, July's retail sales figures are expected to turn positive with a 0.2% increase following four months of falls. Also due are July's Core PPI and Producer Price Index figures, with June's inventories report due at 10 a.m. EDT.

At 7:30 a.m. EDT it was announced that July's NFIB Small Business Index, a measure of small-business optimism, had slipped 0.2 points to 91.2.

In company news, Groupon shares reversed Friday's gains in after-hours trading last night following disappointing results. Groupon shares could be active in trading today, as could those of Home Depot, which reported earnings slightly above analysts' forecasts early this morning. Q4 and full-year figures from Estee Lauder are also due before the bell this morning.

European report
In Europe this morning, new GDP figures showed that the German economy grew by 0.3% in Q2, while the Netherlands and Austria also stayed in positive territory. The eurozone's second-largest economy, France, held fast at 0% change, which was better than the expected 0.1% contraction.

However, the eurozone economy as a whole shrank by 0.2% from April to June. Portugal's GDP fell by 1.2% in the second quarter as its austerity program bit hard, while Spain's GDP fell by 0.4% and Italy's shrank by 0.7%. Despite this, at 7 a.m. EDT the DAX was 0.8% higher, the CAC was up by 0.4%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.5%, and the IBEX was 0.4% stronger.

In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was up by 0.5% at 7 a.m. EDT. Gains were led by huge buying of United Utilities, which was up 12% at 7 a.m. EDT following newspaper speculation that it might be the subject of a 900 pence-per-share takeover bid. United's opening price today was 689 pence. Also in demand were shares in Standard Life, which were up 6.5% following a decent half-yearly report.

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