Dow Jones Set to Open Flat


LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open a single point higher this morning, while the S&P 500 may open a nominal one point lower. Yesterday's gains helped support CNN's Fear & Greed Index, which rose from 79 to close at 89, firmly in "extreme greed" territory.

With no major economic data due today, the focus will be on corporate earnings. Coventry Health Care was first to report this morning, revealing earnings of $3.52 per share on operating revenue of $14.1 billion, a 16% increase on 2011 revenue. The gains were primarily fueled by membership, which rose by 597,000 to 5,362,000 over the year thanks to growth in the company's government programs businesses.

Other big names due to report before the markets open include Wyndham Worldwide, Marathon Oil, Time Warner, CVS Caremark, Cummins, and Ralph Lauren. Among those due to report after markets close tonight are Visa, News Corp., Yelp, Allstate, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

Several other stocks may be in demand when markets open, including Disney, Expedia, and Zynga, which was nearly 7% higher in premarket trading this morning. All three companies reported above-expectation earnings after the closing bell last night. Finally, Dell and Virgin Media stocks could be heavily traded after both companies announced sales. Dell will be taken private with a $24.4 billion leveraged buyout, while Virgin Media will become part of John Malone's Liberty Global business in a $23.3 billion cash and stock acquisition.

European markets
European markets were mixed this morning, with gains in London markets but falls elsewhere. The scandal over alleged undeclared payments to senior politicians in Spain continues, with legal inquiries beginning today, but observers believe the slow speed of the Spanish legal system is likely to prevent the downfall of the current government.

At 7:45 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 0.58%, the CAC 40 was down 0.95%, the FTSE MIB was down 1.21%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.42%. In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.31%, with fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown topping the leaderboard, gaining 8.8% after reporting record profit and revenue in its latest half-yearly results. Also rising fast was Eurasian Natural Resources, which has performed strongly recently and rose a further 6.6% this morning thanks to a strong production report and persistent takeover rumors.

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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 Hargreaves Lansdown and Walt Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Visa, and Walt Disney. 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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