Dow Jones Flat Despite Strong Earnings


LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open two points higher this morning, while the S&P 500 may open down by a single point. Despite this, bullish sentiment is approaching an all-time high: The CNN Fear & Greed Index closed at 91 last night, well into "extreme greed" territory.

It's likely to be another quiet day for economic data, but today's House of Representatives vote on legislation to suspend the government's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling until May 19 is likely to be closely monitored by investors. Also today, the ICSC-Goldman Sachs weekly chain-store sales index is due at 7:45 a.m. EST, followed at 8:55 a.m. EST by the Johnson Redbook weekly retail-sales index and at 9 a.m. EST by November's FHFA home price index, which is expected to have risen by 0.8% after gaining 0.5% in October. Finally, at 4 p.m. EST, the latest IMF world economic outlook is due to be published.

Earnings season
Today's corporate earnings are likely to deliver far more excitement, with both last night's after-hours earnings and this morning's premarket reports likely to stimulate investor activity. IBMshares were up by 4.1% in premarket trading this morning following the computer giant's better-than-expected results last night. Google also posted encouraging results last night, suggesting that it has stemmed the decline in ad revenue. The Internet giant was up by almost 5% in premarket trading as investors speculated on a return to its 2012 highs.

Companies due to report before the markets open this morning include Abbott Laboratories, McDonald's, First Niagara Financial Group, General Dynamics, Motorola Solutions, US Airways, and Air Products & Chemicals. Finally, Apple is due to report its first-quarter earnings after the close tonight, with consensus forecasts suggesting earnings of $13.41 per share, down from $13.87 for the same period the previous year, according to Thomson Reuters.

European markets
European markets were mixed this morning ahead of the latest economic and corporate news from the U.S. At 7:45 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.18%, the CAC 40 was down 0.41%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.67%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.38%. In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.16%, with the index split nearly equally between risers and fallers. Topping the leaderboard was Unilever, which rose by 2.8% after reporting 10.5% revenue growth in 2012 thanks to strong emerging-market sales.

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Roland Head owns shares in Unilever but does not own shares in any of the other companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, McDonald's, Apple, General Dynamics, and International Business Machines. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's, Google, Unilever, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in International Business Machines. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in McDonald's. 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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