Dow May Rise on U.S. Data Despite Euro Slowdown

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open 0.07% higher this morning, while the S&P 500 may open 0.03% lower.

While the Cyprus bailout crisis continues to rumble on without a solution -- the country's banks will now be closed until Tuesday -- the latest eurozone purchasing managers' index data has overshadowed Cyprus this morning. The Markit eurozone composite flash PMI fell to 46.5 in March from 47.9 in February, suggesting that the eurozone recession is continuing to worsen. France is becoming a particular worry: Its service-sector PMI fell to 41.9, the lowest level since February 2009. Even Germany's economy is struggling to stay positive: The German composite PMI, which includes manufacturing and services, fell to 51 from 53.3 in March.

European markets saw a broad sell-off this morning, with the FTSE 100 down by 0.8% as of 7:20 a.m. EDT. However, weak data from the eurozone was tempered by better news from China, where the HSBC China Manufacturing PMI rose to 51.7 in March, up from 50.4 the previous month.

In the U.S., the first major macro data will be the latest weekly jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Initial jobless claims are expected to have risen to 340,000 last week, up slightly from the previous week's surprise low of 332,000. Other data due today includes the Markit flash PMI for March at 9 a.m. EDT and a raft of housing-market data, including the FHFA home price index for January and February's existing-home sales data, which are expected to show that sales of existing homes rose to 5.02 million in February, up from 4.92 million in January.

In company news, Lululemon Athletica, Ross Stores, and homebuilder KB Home are due to report quarterly earnings before the opening bell, while Nike is due to report its third-quarter earnings after markets close today. Meanwhile, Oracle shares are likely to be actively traded this morning after they plunged 7.7% in premarket trading. The company's third-quarter earnings disappointed markets: Oracle's sales fell from $9.1 billion in the second quarter to $9 billion in the third quarter, while adjusted earnings came in at $0.65 per share, missing analysts' forecasts for $0.66 per share on sales of $9.37 billion.

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Roland Head has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Lululemon Athletica and Nike. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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