Markets Expected to Fall at Open


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

This morning's economic data includes the key weekly jobless claims reading at 8:30 a.m. EDT, which is expected to have fallen from 382,000 to 375,000. This will be followed by the Markit Flash PMI for September at 9 a.m. EDT and leading indicators at 10 a.m. EDT, along with the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index, which is expected to rise to -4 from last month's reading of -7.1.

The latest Chinese manufacturing PMI may also disappoint investors. The reading for September came in at 47.8 -- only a marginal improvement from August's 47.6 and indicating continued contraction.

Company earnings reports are likely to be under the spotlight, with Oracle, ConAgra Foods, CarMax, and Rite Aid due to report today. Norfolk Southern could also be in the spotlight after it warned analysts that profits will be lower than expected this quarter. Profits are expected to be between $1.18 and $1.25 per share, according to the company, rather than the $1.63 forecast by analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

European markets
In Europe, markets fell this morning in the wake of big overnight falls in the price of crude oil and a disappointing eurozone PMI, which fell from 46.3 in August to 45.9 in September. Brent crude for November delivery was trading at just under $108 at 7 a.m. EDT, with WTI crude at $91.80 per barrel. At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was down by 0.5%, the CACwas down by 0.6%, the FTSE MIB was down by 1.3%, and the IBEX was down by 1.1%.

In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was 0.6% lower at 7 a.m. EDT, with the big miners once again reversing recent gains on fears of a Chinese slowdown. At the other end of the scale, Imperial Tobacco made strong gains after a positive trading update, rising 1.4% by 7 a.m. EDT.

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