Dow Poised to Rise Ahead of Bernanke Testimony

LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7:30 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open up by 0.13% this morning, while the S&P 500 may open 0.18% higher. CNN's Fear & Greed Index has edged down to 89 from yesterday's close of 90.

European stock markets and oil prices edged lower this morning ahead of this morning's congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at 10 a.m. EDT and the publication of the minutes of this month's FOMC meeting, expected at 2 p.m. EDT. Bernanke's comments and the minutes are expected to confirm whether the Fed is considering scaling back further monetary-stimulus measures in light of the recent signs of growth in the U.S. economy.

Investors will also be interested in April's existing-home sales report, which is due at 10 a.m. EDT. Consensus forecasts indicate that 5 million existing-home sales may have been agreed in April, up from 4.92 million in March. A number of major retailers are also due to update the markets today, which may provide further clues about the health of the economy. Earlier this morning, home improvement chain Lowe's reported a 3% rise in first-quarter net income to $540 million, or $0.49 per share, but nevertheless missed analysts' consensus forecasts for $0.51 per share. Lowe's said sales fell by 1% during the quarter to $13.1 billion, and the firm's shares have fallen 3% in premarket trading.

Staples also missed expectations: The office supplies retailer reported a 4% fall in adjusted earnings per share to $0.26 and a 5% fall in sales to $5.8 billion. Staples confirmed its previous full-year adjusted earnings guidance of $1.30 to $1.35 per share, but its shares are down 1.7% in premarket trading.

Other companies due to report quarterly results today include Target, American Eagle Outfitters, Booz Allen Hamilton, Eaton Vance, Toll Brothers, and Hewlett-Packard, which is expected to report adjusted earnings of $0.81 per share on falling sales after the closing bell tonight. Other stocks that may be actively traded when markets open include Saks, which is up by 19% in premarket trading on reports that it has retained Goldman Sachs to advise the firm on a possible sale.

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 Goldman Sachs and Lowe's. The Motley Fool owns shares of Staples. 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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