Markets May Edge Higher Today

LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) may open slightly higher this morning, according to futures markets at 7 a.m. EDT. Another quiet day is expected as investors hold fire until Friday, when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may provide a strong hint as to the likelihood of a third round of quantitative easing.

Economic data that may influence the market today includes the Case-Shiller home price index for June, which is due at 9 a.m. EDT and is expected to show a 0.1% increase in house prices since June of last year. This will be followed by August's Consumer Confidence Index at 10 a.m. EDT, which is also expected to show a marginal gain, rising from 65.9 in July to 66.

Oil prices may also continue to rise today. The price of a barrel of WTI crude for October delivery was up by 0.4% to just under $96 as of 7 a.m. EDT, and the prices of oil and gasoline could continue to rise if Tropical Storm Isaac causes prolonged refinery shutdowns on the gulf coast.

No major corporate results are due today, but Brown Shoe is expected to report before the bell, as is Sanderson Farms.

European markets
In Europe markets were fairly quiet this morning as investors digested the news that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has cancelled his appearance at Jackson Hole, Wyo., this Friday, where he was due to speak after Bernanke. The decision was blamed on his workload but could suggest that an announcement on bond-buying is due after the ECB's monthly meeting next week.

In Germany, the latest Ifo Institute business confidence survey has found that business confidence in the EU's largest economy fell for the fourth consecutive month in August, highlighting the impact of the eurozone crisis on the currency's most powerful member. According to the survey, German companies are expecting exports to contract for the first time in three years.

At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was down by 0.4%, the CAC was down by 0.8%, the FTSE MIB was down by 0.2%, and the IBEX was 0.5% lower. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) reopened after yesterday's bank holiday, but trading remained light, and the market was flat at the end of the morning session. Security outsourcing giant G4S was 2.9% lower following mediocre first-half results, while DIY chain owner Kingfisher fell 3.6% after a broker downgrade.

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