LONDON -- Markets look likely to open broadly unchanged this morning, with futures markets at 7 a.m. EDT predicting a 0.01% opening fall for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and a 0.12% gain for the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) .
Economic data that could influence trading today includes September's housing starts, which are expected to have increased by 20,000 to 770,000 after rising by a similar amount in August. A strong result here could help confirm that the housing market is starting to recover and support investor confidence.
Yesterday's earnings reports included downbeat updates from IBM and Intel, both of which reported after the bell. IBM's share price was down by more than 3% in after-hours trading, and if these losses hold, then this fall alone would translate to an opening fall of about 57 points for the Dow. Intel shares were also lower in premarket trading this morning.
However, today sees another round of earnings reports, including updates from Bank of America, PepsiCo, and Abbott Laboratories, with American Express due to follow after the bell tonight. Banking results have generally been fairly strong so far, but Bank of America is expected to report a quarterly loss of $0.07 per share. Despite this, its shares are up 2.7% so far this week and were broadly unchanged in premarket trading.
In Europe, markets remained positive this morning after Moody's announced overnight that it would not downgrade Spain's credit rating to junk status. Instead, the credit-rating agency confirmed its negative outlook for Spain and warned that it would lose its investment-grade rating if it were forced to resort to a full bailout and lost access to bond markets. Spanish and Italian bonds immediately rallied, with the yield on 10-year Spanish government bonds falling to 5.5%, the lowest level since April.
At 7 a.m. EDT, the DAX was up 0.2%, the CAC was up 0.4%, the FTSE MIB was up 1.2%, and the IBEX was up 1.7%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) made a more cautious start ahead of the latest U.K. unemployment figures, but after data showed a fall in the headline rate from 8.1% to 7.9%, the market rallied and was up by 0.5% at 7 a.m. EDT.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett does not often invest outside the U.S., but he did recently invest $1 billion in a well-known FTSE 100 blue chip brand, expanding his stake in the company to more than 5%. This famous British name has global expansion potential -- and you can discover the identity of the company and the price he paid in this special exclusive report. Best of all, the report is free -- so download it today while it's still available.
Are you looking to profit from this uncertain economy? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is The Motley Fool's latest report. We urge you to read it today -- your wealth could be transformed. Click here now to request your free, no-obligation copy. The Motley Fool is helping Britain invest. Better.
Further investment opportunities:
The article Flat Start Likely for Markets Ahead of Data Releases originally appeared on Fool.com.
Roland Head has no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel, PepsiCo, Abbott Laboratories, Bank of America, and International Business Machines. The Fool has created a bear call spread position on American Express. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel and PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing puts on Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in International Business Machines. 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.