Dow Futures Dip Ahead Of Key Economic Reports

LONDON — Stock index futures at 6.30am ET indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) may open down by 0.53% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) may open 0.62% lower.

European markets fell this morning as investors faced a raft of new economic and earnings data. Second-quarter UK GDP figures showed that the UK economy grew by 0.6% during the last three months, matching expectations. Engineer Rolls Royce reported a 34% jump in pre-tax profits, but consumer goods firm Unilever missed sales forecasts and said that growth was beginning to slow in emerging markets. Big miners fell as metal prices weakened, and in Germany, chemicals giant BASF SE fell 4.5% after it missed analysts’ earnings estimates. At 6.30am ET, the FTSE 100 was down 1.04% and Germany’s DAX was down 1.16%.

In the US today, the latest weekly jobless claims figures are due at 8.30am ET, and are expected to show that jobless claims edged higher, to 342,000, last week, from 334,000 the previous week. June’s durable goods orders report is also due at 8.30am, and are expected to show that orders for durable goods rose by 2.3% in June, after rising 3.7% in May.

Investors will be watching today’s earnings reports carefully, as several big names — including Caterpillar and AT&T — have missed analysts’ estimates already this week. However, the largest big-cap mover of the day is almost certain to be Facebook. The social networking firm’s share price rose by 17% to $31 in pre-market trading, after it reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.19 on sales of $1.18bn last night, beating analysts’ forecasts for earnings of $0.14 on sales of $1.62bn. Revenue from Facebook’s mobile ads — a key growth area — now accounts for 30% of sales, a figure that should rise to more than 50% this year, according to comments made by CEO Mark Zuckerberg on a conference call yesterday.

Amongst the companies due to report their latest quarterly earnings before the opening bell today are Dow Chemical and General Motors, along with Newmont Mining Corp, International Paper, Southwest Airlines, Noble Energy, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Mead Johnston Nutrition, 3M and Raytheon. After the close tonight, and Starbucks are both due to report their latest quarterly results.

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.