Dow Jones May Drop on Jobs Data


LONDON -- Stock index futures as of 7 a.m. EDT indicate that both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 may open 0.6% lower. Despite gains for both indexes yesterday, the CNN Fear & Greed Index fell further and closed at 55 last night, signifying "neutral" sentiment.

Stock markets across Europe fell this morning to reach a one-month low ahead of this afternoon's U.S. nonfarm payroll data. European airline shares fell amid fears that a bird flu outbreak in China that has already killed six people could harm long-haul business, leaving British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group down by 6.8% at 7:30 a.m. EDT. Concerns also grew that North Korea might threaten U.S. bases in the Asia-Pacific region after it moved missile launchers and intermediate-range missiles to its eastern coastline. At 7:30 a.m. EDT, the FTSE 100 was down 1.4%, while Germany's DAX was 1.8% lower.

Today's key economic reports are the nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March, both of which are due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, before markets open. U.S. jobs data has disappointed twice already this week, and consensus forecasts are suggesting that 190,000 new jobs were created in March, down from 236,000 in February. Investors will be concerned that these figures may surprise to the downside once more, although the unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 7.7%. Other data due to be published today includes the trade deficit and consumer credit figures for February.

There are no major corporate earnings announcements due today, but companies with strong domestic exposure such as Bank of America could fall if job figures come in below expectations. Stocks that may be actively traded today include F5 Networks, which fell 17% in German trading this morning after cutting its second-quarter sales and earnings forecasts below its previous guidance. Facebook shares rose 3.1% yesterday as the company launched its new Facebook Home app and its customised Android phone, but the social-networking website's shares are just 0.5% higher in premarket trading, suggesting that investors may wait to see what impact the new app has on Facebook's mobile revenue before committing themselves to large new positions.

Finally, let's not forget that the Dow's daily movements can add up to serious long-term gains. Indeed, Warren Buffett recently wrote, "The Dow advanced from 66 to 11,497 in the 20th Century, a staggering 17,320% increase that materialized despite four costly wars, a Great Depression and many recessions." If you, like Buffett, are convinced of the long-term power of the Dow, you should read "5 Stocks To Retire On." Your long-term wealth could be transformed, even in this uncertain economy. Simply click here now to download this free, no-obligation report.

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Roland Head has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends F5 Networks and Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, F5 Networks, and Facebook. 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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