Dow May Open Lower as Investors Target 9th Day of Gains

LONDON -- After hitting record closing highs for the last eight days, will the Dow extend its winning streak to nine days? Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open down by 0.2% this morning, while the S&P 500 may open 0.24% lower.

Retail data will be in focus this morning when February's retail sales figures are released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Consensus forecasts suggest that sales rose by 0.7% in February after gaining 0.1% in January. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, import prices are expected to have risen by 0.5% in February after rising 0.6% in January, while at 10 a.m. EDT, analysts expect that inventories may have risen by 0.6% in January after gaining 0.1% in December.

The retail industry will also be the main focus of today's corporate earnings announcements. Guess?, Vera Bradley, and Men's Wearhouse are all due to report after the close tonight, while Express is due to report before the opening bell this morning. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing may also be actively traded after the FAA approved the company's plans to fix the battery issues that have been behind the global grounding of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

European markets
Markets moved lower in Europe this morning as investors took profits and reacted to the latest eurozone industrial-production figures, which showed that output fell by 0.4% across the single-currency zone in January, missing expectations for a 0.1% fall. Meanwhile, reports indicated that the EU parliament is likely to vote against last month's EU budget deal later today, which could trigger months of further negotiations.

At 7:10 a.m. EDT, the DAX was down 0.25%, the CAC 40 was down 0.47%, the FTSE MIB was down 1.57%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.79%. In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.86% despite a 2.9% gain for Asia-focused life insurance company Prudential, which reported a 25% increase in operating profit in 2012. The index was dragged back by security-outsourcing specialist G4S, whichfell 2.7% after it reported the departure of its chief financial officer, despite a 10% rise in revenue last year. Other big fallers included Standard Chartered and British American Tobacco, both of which went ex-dividend today.

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