Dow Noses Higher Ahead of Housing Data

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open up by a meager two points this morning, while the S&P 500 may open a quarter-point higher. The CNN Fear & Greed Index has slowed its rise and remains unchanged at 87, signifying "extreme greed."

European markets were mixed this morning, but the FTSE 100 edged higher and broke through the 6,700 barrier for the first time since October 2007. The FTSE was helped by new Japanese GDP figures showing that Japan's economy grew by 0.9% in the first quarter of the year, suggesting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's monetary-easing policies may be starting to stimulate growth.

In the U.S., investors are likely to focus on several items of key economic data that are due for release today. Starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT, initial jobless claims are expected to have risen to 330,000 last week, up slightly from 323,000 the previous week. Also due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, the consumer price index is expected to show that prices fell by 0.3% in April after falling by 0.2% in March. Forecasts suggest that 965,000 housing starts were recorded in April, down slightly from 1.04 million in March, while 943,000 building permits may have been issued in April, up from 907,000 in March. Finally, at 10 a.m. EDT, the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey is expected to come in at two for May, up from 1.3 in April.

On the corporate front, several companies could see active trading today. Wal-Mart Stores reported first-quarter earnings of $1.14 per share on revenue of $114 billion. That's a 5% increase from earnings of $1.09 per share during the same period last year, but it nevertheless fell short of Wall Street expectations for earnings of $1.15 per share on revenue of $115.8 billion.

Kohl's is also expected to report their first-quarter earnings before the opening bell, while JC Penney will report after the close.

Cisco Systems may be in demand when trading starts: The tech firm reported a 6% rise in earnings and a 5% increase in revenue after the close last night, beating analysts' expectations. Cisco shares are up by more than 10% in premarket trading, potentially taking them to a new 52-week high. Tesla Motors was up 6.7% in premarket trading after announcing that it intends to raise $830 million through issuing new shares and debt in order to repay a government loan early. Tesla founder Elon Musk has committed to buying $100 million of the new stock.

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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