One analyst commenting on the stock market says "This is about as flat as it gets." Rex Macey, chief investment officer of Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors, describes it as "a market looking for direction." Investors are concerned about the strength of the economic recovery. The Dow fell five points yesterday. The S&P 500 slipped 3 ½. The Nasdaq dropped 20. Futures point to slight gains at this morning's opening.
- International stock markets advanced cautiously today but Australia's exchange and currency jumped after encouraging economic data there. Most investors are waiting for key policy meetings in Europe and a major U.S. job report. The dollar slipped against the yen and edged up against the euro. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $97.50 a barrel.
- The government releases the closely watched weekly jobless claims number today. It also issues fourth-quarter productivity data and international trade data for December. Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates. And chain retailers release January sales comparisons. There are quarterly earnings reports from Sony, Aetna, General Motors, 21st Century Fox, Philip Morris International and Kellogg before the market opens. After the close, it's results from News Corp. and Linkedin.
- Tomorrow's scheduled employment report from the government is getting some extra attention amid worries about an economic slowdown. Stock markets have sunk after signs of weaker growth in the United States, Europe and China. But experts say there's a downside: The numbers may be distorted by recent bad weather and the end of extended unemployment benefits in December.
- The 24-member governing council of the European Central Bank is meeting today in Frankfurt and will weigh conflicting signals from the economy as it considers whether to cut interest rates again for the 18-country euro bloc. A number of economists think it will hold off cutting rates or taking other measures that might stimulate the economy, which is growing more slowly than people would like.