LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7 a.m. EST indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average may open 0.4% higher this morning, while the S&P 500 may open up 0.3%.
Today looks likely to be a busy day for the markets, with plenty of new economic data and big corporate-earnings reports. The big story is likely to be jobs; January's nonfarm payrolls report is due at 8:30 a.m. EST and is expected to show that employment rose by 166,000 last month, up slightly from 155,000 in December. If so, the unemployment rate is likely to remain unchanged, at 7.8%. At 9 a.m. EST, January's Markit PMI is expected to be unchanged at 56.1. At 9:55 a.m. EST, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is expected to rise to 71.5. At 10 a.m. EST, the January ISM PMI is expected to rise to 51 from 50.2 last month. And at 10 a.m. EST, December's construction spending is expected to have risen by 0.8% after falling 0.3% in November.
Mattel was first to report this morning, unveiling fourth-quarter earnings of $0.87 per share on sales of $2.26 billion. Excluding legal fees, the company earned $1.12 per share, which fell short of analyst estimates of $1.15. The company cited poor sales of Barbie and movie-themed toys during the holiday season. Also early were Aon Corp and Newell Rubbermaid, both of which reported fourth-quarter results broadly in line with expectations. The earnings focus will shift to the oil industry later this morning -- ExxonMobil is expected to report quarterly earnings of $1.99 per share before markets open, while Chevron is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of $3.06 per share, also before the bell. Other companies due to report this morning include Merck, Ingersoll-Rand, Beam, Lear Corp, and Tyson Foods.
British, French, and German markets moved higher this morning, supported by overnight data showing that China's manufacturing sector continues to expand, albeit slowly. The official China manufacturing index fell from 50.6 to 50.4 in January, but the HSBC manufacturing PMI rose from 51.5 to 52.3. Most analysts interpreted the new data as suggesting that China's manufacturing recovery is weak but ongoing.
In Europe, January's eurozone manufacturing PMI rose to 47.9 from 46.1 in December -- an 11-month high. However, manufacturing remains weak in many eurozone countries, including France, where the January manufacturing PMI fell to 42.9 from 44.6 in December. Eurozone unemployment remained unchanged at 11.7% in January, while inflation in the single-currency zone fell to 2%.
At 7:40 a.m. EST, the DAX was up 0.24%, the CAC 40 was up 0.98%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.38%, and the IBEX 35 was down 1.92%. In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.4%, with telecom stalwart BT Group leading the way, up 5.4% after its third-quarter results were well-received.
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