Early Slump Expected for Markets


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

New economic data due today includes second-quarter productivity, expected to rise from 1.6% to 1.9%, and second-quarter labor costs, expected to have fallen from 1.7% to 1.4%. Also of interest may be the MBA weekly mortgage applications survey and the Johnson Redbook weekly retail sales index.

Shares that could be actively traded today include Dollar General and H&R Block, while investors in Facebook may feel a little happier following a confirmation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that he has no intention of selling any of his shares for at least another year. Yesterday saw Altera confirm its Q3 forecasts for 2% to 6% growth after markets closed, while FedEx downgraded its next-quarter EPS forecast from a range of $1.45 to $1.60 per share to $1.37 to $1.43 per share. Microsoft and Nokia shares could also be active when the companies unveil their latest smartphone today in what could be Nokia's last chance at regaining its former glory.

European markets
In Europe, trading was fairly listless, with most major indexes remaining close to yesterday's closing levels. Anticipation is building toward tomorrow's European Central Bank meeting, at which a major policy decision -- probably relating to a bond-buying program -- is expected. At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was up 0.6%, the CAC was up 0.1%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.3%, and the IBEX was up 0.3%.

In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was down by 0.2%, with oil supermajor BP (NYS: BP) down by 4% and leading the losers as of 7 a.m. EDT. A report in the Financial Times suggesting that the Department of Justice is aiming for maximum penalties when the two parties meet in court in January has dampened investors' hopes that BP might finally be on the home stretch following the Macondo oil spill in 2010.

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Roland Head has no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Facebook, FedEx, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. 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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