Dow Jones May Open Lower as Investors Await New Data


LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open lower this morning, down by 0.2%, while the S&P 500 may open down by 0.3% as it recedes from recent highs.

Today's economic calendar kicks off at 9 a.m. EST with the Case-Shiller home price index for November. Consensus forecasts suggest that house prices may have risen by 5.5% on an annualized basis, up from 4.3% in October. At 10 a.m. EST, consumer confidence data for January is due, with a reading of 64.3 expected, down slightly from 65.1 in December.

Shares in Ford Motor should see some action today after the company released expectation-beating earnings this morning. Ford reported fourth-quarter net income of $0.31 per share on $36.5 billion in revenue, whereas analysts had expected earnings of $0.25 per share on $32.9 billion in revenue. A loss in Ford's European market was offset by strong performance in North America.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer also beat the Street this morning, reporting earnings of $0.47 per share on $15.1 billion in revenue versus estimates of $0.44 per share in earnings and $14.4 billion in revenue. Including the $12 billion sale of its nutrition segment, Pfizer earned $0.86 per share.

Tyco International also reported before the bell, announcing income of $163 million, down from $322 million for the same period of the previous year. However, adjusted income rose to $0.40 per share from $0.26, matching analysts' expectations.

Earnings will remain in focus throughout the day, with shares in Yahoo! likely to be actively traded when markets open after the company released a positive earnings update last night, sending its shares up by nearly 2% in premarket trading. Shares in VMWare and Seagate Technology may plunge after both companies issued disappointing updates after the close last night.

United States Steel, Valero Energy, Harley Davidson, International Paper, and Lexmark International are also among those due to report before the bell. As usual, today's key tech earnings will be released after markets close, with Amazon likely to dominate. The online retailer is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of $0.27 per share, according to consensus forecasts. Broadcom is also due to report.

European markets
In Europe this morning, markets edged lower as investors digested the challenging outlook for the region, where new data this morning showed that Spanish retail sales fell by 10.7% on an annualized basis in December and French consumer confidence remains below average, although German consumer confidence has risen slightly. At 7:45 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 0.25%, the CAC 40 was down 0.26%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.69%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.64%. In London, the FTSE 100 was up just 0.09%, with government-owned Royal Bank of Scotland the biggest faller, down 5% following news that it is expected to pay 250 million pounds in bonuses this year, on the same day it is reported to be negotiating a 500 million pound settlement with U.S. and U.K. authorities over allegations it submitted false LIBOR rates. The shares are also feeling the weight of negative analyst sentiment: Three prominent analysts have downgraded RBS so far in January.

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Roland Head does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of, VMware, and Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of VMware, Ford Motor, and Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor. 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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