LONDON -- After closing almost unchanged yesterday, markets are expected to start pre-holiday trading with a whimper: As of 7:30 a.m. EST, stock futures suggest opening gains of just a few points for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) .
A number of key reports will be published today, starting at 8:30 a.m. EST with the latest weekly jobless-claims figures, which are expected to have fallen to 418,000 from 439,000 last week. Jobless claims are being published a day earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Due at 9 a.m. EST is the Markit Flash PMI for November, expected to read 50.8, a slight fall from 51 in October. This will be followed at 9:55 a.m. EST by the final reading of the November University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which is expected to come in at 83.5, down from a preliminary reading of 84.9. Finally, at 10 a.m. EST October's leading indicators are due, with a rise of 0.2% expected after September's 0.6% increase.
Companies due to report earnings today include farm equipment maker Deere, which is expected to report a fourth-quarter profit of $1.88 per share on revenue of $8.9 billion, according to a FactSet poll of analysts.
European investors were disappointed by the failure of eurozone finance ministers to agree on a debt-reduction strategy for Greece. The core disagreement is between the International Monetary Fund, which believes a writedown of Greek sovereign debt held by the public sector is necessary, and eurozone politicians, who will not agree to this. A further meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 26.
European markets were little changed this morning after failing to react to the renewed uncertainty. Such delays have been a regular feature of the eurozone crisis. At 7:40 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.06%, the CAC 40 was up 0.12%, the FTSE MIB was up 0.3%, and the IBEX 35 was up 0.08%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) is flat, with platinum refiner Johnson Matthey leading the losers with a 6.3% drop after unveiling a big fall in half-year sales and profit and downgrading its guidance.
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