Dow Jones Lower Ahead of Jobless Report


LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open down by 0.1% this morning, while the S&P 500 may also open 0.1% lower.

Following yesterday's disappointing GDP numbers, investors will be keen to see whether this morning's weekly jobless-claims report can provide any good news. Consensus forecasts for the weekly jobless-claims report, which is due at 8:30 a.m. EST, suggest that claims for the week ending Jan. 26 rose to 355,000, up from 330,000 the previous week. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EST are the personal-income and consumer-spending data for December. Personal income is expected to have risen by 0.9% following a 0.6% increase in November, while consumer spending is expected to have risen by just 0.2% in December, down from 0.4% in November. Finally, at 9:45 a.m. EST, the Chicago PMI for January is expected to read 50 -- indicating no change -- compared with 48.9 in December.

Corporate earnings will continue to feature heavily today, with 38 S&P 500 companies due to report. Starting before the market opens, Whirlpool reported adjusted earnings of $2.29 per share, beating a consensus forecast of $2.22 per share. Whirlpool is now forecasting full-year earnings for 2013 of $9.25 to $9.75 per share, up from $7.05 per share in 2012.

Dow Chemical, MasterCard, Time Warner, United Parcel Service, Colgate-Palmolive, Hershey and Viacom are among those also due to report earnings before the bell, with Chubb and Wynn Resorts among those due to report after the close.

Other stocks that could be active when markets open this morning include Facebook, which was down by 5.5% in premarket trading despite doubling its mobile-advertising revenue over the last quarter. Electronic Arts, Las Vegas Sands, and ConocoPhillips might also be active; all three reported disappointing results after the closing bell last night.

European markets
European markets edged lower this morning following a number of cautious earnings reports from big European companies. Spanish bank Banco Santander reported a 60% fall in full-year profits thanks to rising bad debt from property writedowns and delinquent loans in Spain, but the bank believes the worst is now over. There was some good news from Germany, where employment rose unexpectedly in January, pushing the unemployment rate down from 6.9% to 6.8%.

At 7:45 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 0.36%, the CAC 40 was down 0.8%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.49%, and the IBEX 35 was down 1.84%. In London, the FTSE 100 was down by 0.57%. The biggest faller on the Footsie was pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, down by 5.1% at midday in London after revealing a 15% drop in full-year revenue caused by the loss of patent protection for several of its brands. The FTSE's biggest company, Royal Dutch Shell, was down 1.6% after it reported a fall in profits due to fluctuations in the price of oil.

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Roland Head owns shares in Royal Dutch Shell but does not own shares in any of the other companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Mastercard Incorporated Common and Facebook. The Fool has bought calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of United Parcel Service and Facebook. 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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