Lower Start for Markets as Euro Fears Surge


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

Despite rising consumer confidence, yesterday saw the CNN Fear & Greed index dive from 91 to 76 as doubts increased over whether quantitative easing will be enough to reignite global growth. Today at 7 a.m. EDT, the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage applications survey was released, showing that mortgage application activity rose 2.8% last week as interest rates declined further.

August's new-home sales figures are due to be released at 10 a.m. EDT. These are expected to have risen by 380,000 after gaining 372,000 in July. The EIA weekly petroleum status report is due at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

In company news, Barnes & Noble is due to unveil its latest book reader today, said to be lighter and thinner than Amazon's latest Kindle readers. Jabil Circuit unveiled disappointing quarterly results after markets closed last night and forecast ongoing weakness as it deals with falling demand. Companies due to report results today include Progress Software and Worthington Industries.

European markets
European markets fell sharply this morning as concerns grew over the lack of progress being made in resolving the eurozone crisis. The yield on 10-year Spanish government bonds reached 6% once more, ahead of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's unveiling of a new round of cuts and structural reforms tomorrow. The cuts will be aimed at preempting bailout conditions, but Rajoy is coming under increasing pressure to request a bailout sooner, rather than later.

In Greece, a general strike against government cuts has brought the country to a halt as pressure mounts from the IMF for a further restructuring of its government debt -- a subject that is likely to arise when German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets IMF's managing director, Christine Lagarde, later today.

Finally, a statement issued yesterday by the German, Dutch, and Finnish finance ministers has raised concerns over eurozone bank recapitalization -- a key requirement. These three governments are now stalling on the creation of a European banking supervisor. Until this takes place, the European Stability Mechanism (a bailout fund) cannot be used to recapitalize the region's troubled banks.

At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was down 1.6%, the CACwas down 2%, the FTSE MIB was down 2.6%, and the IBEX was down 3.1%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was down by 1.2%. Just five companies registered gains this morning, led by ultra-defensive favorite British American Tobacco, which rose by 0.3%. Among the biggest fallers were Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Lloyds Banking Group, which were all more than 3% lower, as were most of the second-tier mining shares.

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