Markets Set to Rise on Euro Optimism

LONDON -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) are expected to open higher this morning, according to futures markets at 7 a.m. ET.

The European Central Bank's expected bond-buying policy announcement is set to dwarf the impact of any domestic data today. A statement is due at 7:45 a.m. ET, followed by a press conference at 8:30 a.m. What is expected is a proposal to buy short-dated government debt with maturities of less than three years, following bailout requests from the countries concerned -- most likely Spain and Italy. A series of careful briefings and leaks mean that there should be few surprises, but some questions remain, especially over the size of the scheme.

On the domestic front, the latest weekly jobless claims figures are due today and are expected to show a small fall in new claims from 374,000 to 370,000. Staying with employment, the ADP survey for August is expected to show that 145,000 new jobs have been created, while in the service sector, the ISM non-manufacturing index is expected to have risen from 52.6 in July to 53.0 in August.

Market activity could be distorted by reaction to the ECB's announcement, but companies whose stock may be actively traded today include, which is expected to unveil new versions of its Kindle line at a press event today. VeriFone Systems might also in the spotlight after reporting disappointing third-quarter sales last night, while Navistar International is expected to report a quarterly loss before markets open.

European markets
European markets were optimistic this morning, rising ahead of the ECB press conference at 8:30 a.m. At 7 a.m., the DAX was up by 1.3%, the CAC was 1% higher, the FTSE MIB was up by 1.3% and the IBEX was up by 1.6%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) rose by 0.6%, with the gainers led by hotel and restaurant chain Whitbread, up 5%, and gold miner Randgold Resources, up 4.4%.

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