Flat Start Expected for Markets

LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are expected to open broadly flat this morning, according to futures markets.

Today's economic calendar is quiet -- the highlight is likely to be July's durable goods orders, which are expected to have risen by 3%, following a 1.3% rise in June. Markets fell yesterday and CNN's Fear & Greed index retreated from recent highs of almost 80 to 68 (Greed), suggesting that a weakening of sentiment and market correction from recent year-highs could be on the way.

In company news, shares in Autodesk fell by 20% in after-hours trading after investors were disappointed by the company's new guidance. salesforce.com also disappointed analysts with its Q3 guidance last night. Both stocks could be actively traded when markets open this morning. No major earnings announcements are due today, leaving the stage clear for a quiet day.

European markets
In Europe, yesterday's downward trend continued with all major markets remaining weak in morning trading. At 7 a.m. ET, the DAX was down by 0.3%, the CAC was down by 0.3%, the FTSE MIB was down by 0.7%, and the IBEX was down by 0.5%. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel this morning to plead his case for an extension to Greece's bailout schedule, but the German leader has already made it clear that she will wait for the official report in September before offering an opinion.

London markets may be heading into a long weekend, but the wet weather forecast appeared to match traders' feelings, as the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) slipped by 0.2% during the morning session. The market was not boosted by revised U.K. growth figures, which showed that GDP fell by 0.5% in the second quarter, rather than the 0.7% originally claimed. Leading the fallers once more were the big miners, with Rio Tinto down by 3.25% and ENRC down by 3.6% at 7 a.m.

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