Markets May Open Higher on a Quiet Day


LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are likely to open broadly flat this morning, according to futures markets. Monday is expected to be another quiet day with no major economic data due in the U.S. or in Europe.

Low volumes and range-bound trading are likely to be the order of the day, but markets may drift slightly higher, as was the case for much of last week. Today's economic data is limited to the Chicago Fed National Activity Index at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Company earnings may prove a slight drag. Lowe's reported quarterly revenues of $14.25 billion and earnings of $0.64 per share before markets opened this morning, missing analysts' estimates.

European markets
European markets were fairly quiet this morning, with little in the way of new information to work on. However, over the weekend, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the ECB is considering using bond buying to effectively cap bond yields on eurozone government bonds. The plan would mean heavy buying of Italian and Spanish bonds, the prices of which have been rising in anticipation in recent days.

Elsewhere, German and Finnish government ministers continue to talk tough on the need for Greece to adhere to its existing austerity commitments ahead of meetings between the Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras and the German and French leaders later this week. At 7 a.m. EDT, the other main European indexes were broadly unchanged, with the DAX up 0.4%, the CAC down 0.1%, Spain's IBEX down 0.3%, and the Italian FTSE MIB up by 0.2%.

In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was down 0.2%, held back by big falls in mining shares including Xstrata, which was down 3.5% on reports that suitor Glencore International will not offer the improved takeover terms demanded by some of Xstrata's major shareholders, threatening the success of this deal. At the top of the table, banking shares continued to rise, with Lloyds Banking Group leading the way with a 2.5% gain, followed closely by Barclays, up 1.5%.

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