Dow Set to Open Flat After Home Depot Beats the Street


LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open down by a negligible four points this morning, while the S&P 500 may open 2.5 points lower. CNN's Fear & Greed Index has edged down to 90 from yesterday's close of 91.

European markets have retreated from 2008 highs this morning ahead of tomorrow's publication of the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting. In London, the world's largest cruise-ship operator, Carnival, slid 11% after cutting its earnings-per-share guidance for the second half by about 20%, citing lower revenue yields due to ticket discounting and higher costs. As of 7:15 a.m. EDT, the FTSE 100 is up a mere three points, while in Germany the DAX is down 0.4%, with automotive manufacturers among the big fallers, including Daimler AG, down 2.8%, and Volkswagen AG, down 1.8%.

No major economic reports are scheduled for release in the U.S. today, but a number of major retailers are set to report earnings, so investors will be watching these closely, as they may provide clues as to the strength of the economic recovery. Investors may also be cautious ahead of tomorrow's testimony from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and the publication of the minutes of the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting, both of which should clarify the Fed's policy on further stimulus measures.

One share that may be actively traded this morning is Home Depot , which is up 4% in premarket trading after reporting first-quarter earnings of $0.83 per share -- more than 22% higher than in the same quarter last year and ahead of analysts' consensus forecast for $0.77 per share. Investors may see a strong recovery in the home improvement retail market as representative of wider economic growth and the improving health of the housing market.

AutoZone also reported earlier this morning, revealing a 5% rise in sales to $2.2 billion and a 16% rise in EPS to $7.27, compared with the same period last year.

Other companies due to report today include Best Buy, Medtronic, Dick's Sporting Goods, Saks, and TJX Companies. Urban Outfitters is down by 2.5% in early trading after missing analysts' sales forecasts in its results last night, despite reporting a 14% increase in overall sales. The retailer earned $0.32 per share for the quarter ended April 30, beating analyst expectations of $0.29 per share, according to a Reuters survey.

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 Home Depot. The Motley Fool owns shares of Medtronic. 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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