Markets May Open Higher as Bernanke Fever Peaks

LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) may open up to 0.65% higher today, according to futures markets as of 7 a.m. EDT.

Today's big economic news story will be Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at Jackson Hole, Wyo., at 10 a.m. EDT, so expect very little trading or movement in markets before then. Today's other economic data -- July's factory orders, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, and the latest Chicago PMI -- are likely to count for little, even though analysts are expecting factory orders to have risen by 2% in July after a 0.5% fall in June.

The irony is that positive data like this could weaken the case for further QE and might leave markets disappointed later this morning. Decisive action may be more likely to come from the European Central Bank, which holds its next policy meeting on Sept. 6.

No major company earnings reports are due today, but Pandora might have another day in the limelight after its shares rose 14% in trading on Thursday following news late on Wednesday that it had broken even on an adjusted basis. Also active could be shares in SAIC, which rose 8% in after-hours trading on Thursday and are continuing to make gains in premarket trading on news that the company plans to split itself into two publicly traded companies.

European markets
Markets took a break from recent falls in Europe this morning and gained ahead of Bernanke's speech. Oil prices and the value of the euro all gained slightly through the morning, albeit within recent trading ranges. At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was up by 1.3%, the CAC was up by 1.3%, Italy's FTSE MIB was up by 1.9%, and Spain's IBEX was up by 1.7%.

In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was up by 0.7%, led by a resurgent mining sector recapturing some of yesterday's losses. There were no major movers; the top gainer, miner Kazakhmys, was up by less than 3% at the end of the morning sessions, while the biggest faller, cruise ship operator Carnival, was down by just 1.5%.

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