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Dow Futures Point Higher Despite Government Shutdown

LONDON — Stock index futures at 7am ET indicated the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) may open up by 0.38% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) may open 0.46% higher, as up to 800,000 federal employees complete a half-day of preparations for the government shutdown, before being sent home on unpaid leave.

CNN’s Fear & Greed Index remains in the fear zone, and is expected to open at 29 this morning, down from 35 at last night’s close.

Markets are expected to remain calm in expectation of an early resolution to the shutdown, but investors will now be eyeing the October 17 debt ceiling deadline, after which the US could potentially default on debt repayments, for the first time in history.

European markets shrugged off the arrival of the US shutdown and were mostly higher this morning, despite new figures showing that manufacturing activity fell slightly in the eurozone during September.

The eurozone Markit manufacturing PMI fell to 51.1 last month, down from 51.4 in August.

In London, the biggest faller was consumer goods giant Unilever, which was down by 3.6% at 7am ET, after reporting disappointing trading in emerging markets during the third quarter. At 7am ET, the FTSE 100 was down 0.18%, the DAX was up 0.63%, and the CAC 40 was up 0.76%.

Today’s US economic reports include the CoreLogic home price index at 8am ET, September’s Markit PMI at 8.58am, and the ISM manufacturing PMI for September at 10am.

August’s construction spending figures are also due at 10am, but may be delayed due to the government shutdown. September’s motor vehicle sales figures are due through the day, and are expected to show that sales fell to 15.5m in September, down from 16.1m in August.

If the government shutdown continues, additional reports — including Friday’s key nonfarm payrolls report — may also be delayed.

Walgreen Co is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings before markets open this morning, as are Acuity Brands and Actuant Corporation.

Sportswear company Under Armour was up 1.2% in pre-market trading after JPMorgan lifted its rating on the stock to neutral. Car makers including Ford and General Motors could also see active trade, as they release their September sales figures through the day.

Finally, let's not forget the Dow's daily movements can add up to some 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."

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> Roland owns shares in Unilever but does not own shares in any of the other companies mentioned in this article.  The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Unilever.