Dow and S&P May Start Flat on euro Fears

LONDON -- As of 7:30 a.m. EST, stock index futures suggest a flat start to trading on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) predicted to go nowhere and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) expected to rise a fraction of a percent at the open. Fears over the eurozone crisis are rising to the surface once more after France's credit rating was downgraded by Moody's last night.

Today's economic calendar is thin but does include October's housing-start figures at 8:30 a.m. EST. Analysts are expecting new starts to have declined to 825,000 from 872,000 in September. Also on the schedule is the building-permit data for October, which is expected to show a slight fall after September's sharp gains.

Company earnings could be under the spotlight this morning, with both Hewlett-Packard and Best Buy due to issue quarterly results before the bell. Analysts questioned by Reuters expected HP to report revenue of $30.4 billion and earnings per share of $1.14, while Best Buy is expected to deliver earnings of $0.12 per share on revenue of $10.7 billion. Campbell Soup, HJ Heinz, and Hormel Foods are also due to release results this morning, while at 12:15 p.m. EST, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech to the Economic Club of New York may be of interest to investors.

Shares in Krispy Kreme may be in demand this morning after the company's share price rose by 13% in after-hours trading last night following better-than-expected quarterly figures.

European markets
After a strong rally yesterday, European markets have retreated slightly this morning ahead of this afternoon's meeting of eurozone finance ministers, at which the release of the next round of Greek's bailout funds is to be discussed. Ministers are not expected to make a final decision today but are likely to reach an agreement in principle, according to press reports.

At 7:40 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.2%, the CAC 40 was down 0.3%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.9%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.76%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was down 0.1%, with ARM Holdings leading the fallers, down 1.6%, while InterContinental Hotels Group led the index, gaining 2.3% on decent volumes through the morning.

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