Markets Expected to Open Higher

LONDON -- Markets may open higher this morning, with futures markets at 7 a.m. EDT predicting a 0.35% opening gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and a 0.44% gain for the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) .

Today's economic data includes September's retail sales at 8:30 a.m., which are expected to have risen by 0.9%, unchanged from August. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EDT is October's Empire State index, which is expected to have risen from -10.4 in September to -4 this month. August's business inventories are due later in the morning at 10 a.m. EDT and are expected to show an increase of 0.5%, down from 0.8% in July.

Corporate earnings reports will be dominated today by Citigroup, which is expected to report its third-quarter earnings before the bell. In other news, shares in Sprint Nextel are likely to jump when markets open after Softbank Corp announced that it is to buy 70% of the wireless carrier. Sprint shares rose sharply in premarket trading this morning.

European markets
In Europe, markets rose unexpectedly this morning after investors' confidence was boosted by a fall in China's inflation levels over the weekend. China's consumer price index rose by 1.9% in September, down from 2% in August, suggesting that there is still room for more stimulus measures to boost output without the risk of a sharp rise in inflation.

Markets were also hopeful of progress in the eurozone crisis ahead of this week's EU summit, but reports from eurozone officials over the weekend suggest that a new deal for Greece is not likely until after U.S. elections in November, when a Spanish bailout request, a Greek deal, and a bailout for Cyprus may be combined and presented to eurozone governments in one package for approval.

At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was up 0.7%, the CAC was up 1.4%, the FTSE MIB was up 1%, and the IBEX was up 0.4%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was up by 0.5% as the majority of companies made steady gains during the morning session. Banking shares rose particularly strongly, led by Standard Chartered with a 1.9% gain. Miners dominated the lower end of the table following a widespread downgrade by Goldman Sachs, which included cuts to its recommendations for sector giants Anglo American, Rio Tinto, and BHP Billiton.

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Roland Head owns shares in Rio Tinto but has no shares in any of the other companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Standard Chartered. 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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