Dow Jones Flat Ahead of Job and GDP Reports


LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open higher by a nominal three points this morning, while the S&P 500 may open unchanged after closing above 1,500 once more yesterday.

Today starts with two major items of economic data: January's ADP employment report and the first estimate of fourth-quarter GDP. The ADP employment survey, due at 8:15 a.m. EST, is expected to show that 173,000 private-sector jobs were created in January, down from 215,000 in December. The fourth-quarter GDP report is due at 8:30 a.m. EST, and forecasts suggest that the economy grew by 1.1% on an annualized basis in the final quarter of 2012, down from 3.1% in Q3.

This morning saw fourth-quarter results from Boeing, which posted earnings of $1.28 per share (excluding items) on revenue of $22.38 billion, beating analyst estimates of $1.19 in EPS and $22.36 billion in revenue. The company's 787 fleet remains grounded as investigators struggle to identify the cause of a recent spate of problems with the new aircraft.

Also due before the bell are the latest updates from oil and gas firms Hess, Marathon Petroleum, and Phillips 66, along with results from Northrop Grumman and L-3 Communications.

Facebook is likely to dominate the news later today when it releases its latest quarterly results after the closing bell. ConocoPhillips, Murphy Oil, and Qualcomm are also due to report. Meanwhile, Amazon shares are likely to be actively traded today after the online retailer reported a 22% surge in fourth-quarter sales yesterday. Amazon shares were up by almost 9% in premarket trading this morning. Research in Motion was up by 3% ahead of today's make-or-break launch of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

European markets
Many European markets remained broadly flat this morning despite news that Spain's recession has continued to worsen. GDP dropped 0.7% in the final quarter of 2012, leaving the country's economy 1.8% smaller than it was a year earlier. The only major stock market to experience a big move this morning was Italy's FTSE MIB, which dropped heavily after oil services company Saipem issued a profit warning last night and cut its earnings forecast by 80%.

At 7:45 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 0.19%, the CAC 40 was down 0.13%, the FTSE MIB was down 2.1%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.37%. In London, the FTSE 100 was up just one point, with potential gains held back by an 8% fall for copper miner Antofagasta, which fell heavily despite reporting higher production output.

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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 Facebook, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications Holdings, and The Fool has bought calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Facebook and 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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