LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are expected to open fairly flat as anticipation starts to build toward Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at Jackson Hole on Friday.
Markets closed higher on Friday following a renewed burst of optimism, but trading volumes have been low throughout August, and investors seem unlikely to take major new positions until they learn the Fed's thoughts on further fiscal stimulus.
No major economic news is scheduled for today, but both Tiffany and Seadrill are scheduled to release earnings. Other stocks that could see active trading today include Apple, which gained 2.3% in premarket trading and looks set to benefit from the $1 billion verdict against rival Samsung.
Oil shares may rise following an increase in the price of oil, which rose following the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico, which is home to 23% of U.S. oil production capacity, much of which will be shut down until the storm has passed. At 7 a.m. EDT, WTI crude oil futures for the month ahead had risen to $97.40; Friday's closing spot price was $95.85. Gasoline prices are also expected to rise ahead of next week's Labor Day holiday.
European markets were trading on very low volumes this morning, as London, Europe's largest market, is closed for a public holiday.
In Germany, the DAX was up by 0.2% at 7 a.m. EDT, the French CAC was up 0.2%, Spain's IBEX was down 0.2%, and Italy's FTSE MIB was up 0.8%. In Greece, the Athex Composite Share Price Index rose by 0.6% after an EU official told a news briefing that the next report from the "troika" -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund -- on Greece's progress would not be ready until "late September or early October."
Two out of the three top risers in Germany this morning were banks, with Deutsche Bank AG leading the way with a 3.6% gain during the morning session. ThyssenKrupp AG was 2% higher, while Commerzbank AG was up by almost 2%.
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