Dow Flat Ahead of Jobs Report


LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 may open down by a single point this morning.

European markets inched slightly higher this morning as anxiety about global growth prospects was balanced by investors' confidence following yesterday's European Central Bank rate cut. In London, the FTSE 100 was up just 0.2%, but the headline figure disguised large moves for individual shares in the index. Miners, which make up a large part of the index's capitalization, made gains of between 2% and 4%, while traditional defensive stocks such as tobacco and pharmaceutical firms dropped. Royal Bank of Scotland was the biggest faller, sliding 5.6% after missing its quarterly forecasts.

U.S. investors will focus closely on today's nonfarm payrolls jobs report, which is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT and is expected to show that 140,000 new jobs were created in April, up from 88,000 in March. April's unemployment rate is due at the same time and is expected to remain unchanged at 7.6%, while average hourly wages are expected to have risen by 0.2% after remaining unchanged the previous month. At 10 a.m. EDT, April's nonmanufacturing PMI is expected to read 54, down slightly from 54.4 in March, while factory orders are expected to have fallen by 2.8% in March after gaining 3% in February.

Today is a little quieter on the earnings front, but a number of companies are due to report their latest earnings today. Newell Rubbermaid reported a 7% fall in revenue for the first quarter but managed to deliver a 6% increase in earnings per share, which rose to $0.35 from $0.33 for the same period last year. Other firms due to report before the market opens include Moody's, Duke Energy, Automatic Data Processing, and Berkshire Hathaway.

LinkedIn stock may also be actively traded when markets open. The social-networking firm disappointed investors with its latest results last night, and LinkedIn's shares were down 9.7% in premarket trading. Intel may also be slightly lower after confirming that its current chief operating officer will become the company's next CEO; Intel stock was down 1% in premarket trading. Moving the other way, American International Group was 2.9% higher in early trading after it beat earnings expectations yesterday.

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