Markets Poised for a Flat Start

LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are expected to open broadly flat this morning, with futures markets predicting opening falls of less than 0.1%. The tech-biased Nasdaq Composite Index (INDEX: ^IXIC) may show slightly more animation, with futures markets suggesting a 0.2% opening gain.

Today's economic data includes the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for August, due at 9:55 a.m. EDT, and July's leading indicators, expected to have risen from -0.3% in June to 0.3% in July. Neither is likely to have a major effect on the markets, which remain upbeat, as highlighted by CNN's Fear & Greed Index, which closed at an "Extreme Greed" reading of 78 last night.

Company results due before markets open today include Foot Locker and J. M. Smucker, while shares in clothing retailer Gap could be in demand after it released quarterly results and raised its full-year guidance after the bell last night. Aeropostale and Marvell Technology Group could also be active but are likely to be heading down after both companies issued disappointing quarterly results last night.

European markets
European markets rose this morning after German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to back the European Central Bank's bond-buying plans. At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was up 0.2%, the CAC was 0.05% higher, Italy's FTSE MIB was up 1.8%, and Spain's IBEX was also 1.8% higher. Earlier this morning, the FTSEurofirst 300 reached a 13-month high of 1,109, highlighting the optimistic sentiment that is dominating trading at present.

In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) rose slightly this morning, gaining 0.2% by 7 a.m. EDT. Leading the risers was chemicals specialist Johnson Matthey with a gain of 3.5%, possibly owing to yesterday's dramatic rise in the price of platinum, a key element of many of the company's products and services. Lloyds Banking Group also continued to rise steadily on strong volumes, while the biggest faller was mining giant Anglo American, down 2.3%.

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Roland Head owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Aeropostale. 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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