Markets May Open Higher on New Data


LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) may open higher this morning, according to futures markets at 7 a.m. EDT. Yesterday's publication of the most recent FOMC minutes revealed that the committee's position on further stimulus was more positive than anticipated. Today's data is expected to be broadly positive.

First up at 8:30 a.m. EDT, weekly jobless claims are expected to have fallen from 366,000 to 365,000. At 8:55 a.m., the Market Flash PMI for August is due, followed by new home sales data at 10 a.m., which is expected to show a rise from 350,000 to 365,000. Finally, the FHFA home price index is also due at 10 a.m., followed by the weekly EIA natural gas report at 10:30 a.m.

Companies that may be active in trading today include Hewlett-Packard, which announced a third-quarter adjusted profit that was better than expected after the bell last night, although it reported an overall loss, due to large impairment charges. Also active could be shares in Guess?, which fell 14% in after-hours trading after the company published new guidance that came in below expectations. Reporting today are Big Lots, which reported earnings per share 13% below analysts' expectations early this morning, along with and Hormel Foods.

China slowdown?
Overnight data from China might also give traders cause for concern. The HSBC Chinese manufacturing sector PMI for September fell from 49.3 to 47.8, dampening hopes that the Chinese slowdown has stabilized. More worryingly, the index showed that stocks of finished goods in Chinese factories have risen at their highest rate since records started in 2004.

European markets
European markets started flat after the latest Markit PMI revealed that the eurozone as a whole continued to contract this month, with the eurozone composite output index coming in at 46.6 for August, a marginal improvement on July's 46.5. Even the German economy is no longer immune; its service sector PMI came in at 48.3 for August, down from 50.1 in July, while its manufacturing sector PMI rose from 43 to 45.1. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

At 7 a.m., the German DAX was up 0.2%, the CAC was also up 0.3%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.1% and Spain's IBEX was down 0.3%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) had risen by 0.4%, helped by miners Randgold Resources, Fresnillo, and Antofagasta, all of which rose by more than 3% in the morning session.

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