Markets Expected to Open Flat

LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are expected to open broadly flat this morning, with futures markets predicting opening falls of less than 0.1% for both markets as of 7 a.m. EDT.

Investors remain cautious, and trading volumes low, in the run-up to Friday's Ben Bernanke speech and next week's European Central Bank meeting. Today's economic news is unlikely to rock the boat, although the second-quarter GDP revision, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, is expected to show an improvement, rising from 1.5% to 1.7%. Other data due today includes July's pending home-sale index and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, due at 2 p.m. EDT.

In company news, Heinz is due to report quarterly earnings before markets open, with analysts expecting revenue of $2.8 billion and earnings of $0.80 per share. The company's shares rose slightly on Tuesday ahead of the results and may be in demand today. Brown-Forman is also due to post quarterly results before the bell this morning, with earnings of $0.63 on sales of $843 million expected. TiVo and Pandora will both release earnings after the bell tonight.

European markets
In Spain, figures from the ECB have revealed that the country's banks are continuing to suffer excessive fund outflows, with withdrawals in July totaling 74 billion euros, equivalent to 7% of GDP. Analysts believe this is far in excess of normal seasonal increases, which are caused by tax payments and holiday costs.

Markets have remained quiet across Europe this morning as volumes remain low and investors continue to wait for new developments in the eurozone crisis. At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was down by 0.6%, the CAC was down by 0.6%, the FTSE MIB was down by 0.3%, and the IBEX was down by 0.4%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was 0.5% lower, with the day's fallers led by iron-ore miner Rio Tinto, which was down 2.5%. The risers were led by safe-haven utility SSE, which recently announced a 9% price increase for its U.K. customers.

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Roland Head owns shares in SSE but has no shares in any of the other companies mentioned. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of H.J. Heinz. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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