Investors are disappointed by the latest round of earnings from U.S. companies. That drove stocks mostly lower yesterday, breaking a six-day winning streak. The S&P 500 index lost four points yesterday to close at 1,875. The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 13 points to 16,501 and the Nasdaq composite dropped 34 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,126. Analysts say a rise is expected in U.S. shares later in the day because of healthy earnings for Apple as well as Facebook.
- International stock markets are mixed today with European shares getting a boost in early trading. Stocks in Tokyo slipped after talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Barack Obama failed to finalize a trade agreement. The dollar is lower against the euro and the yen. Benchmark crude oil rose but remains below $102 a barrel.
- The government's weekly jobless claims report is due out today. Durable goods numbers for March will also be released and Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates. Before the market opens, a number of companies will report their quarterly earnings including Aetna, General Motors, 3M , Caterpillar and Verizon. After the closing bell, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Visa and Microsoft will report quarterly financial results.
- China's government says it will open 80 projects in eight state-run industries to private and foreign investors as part of efforts to make its slowing economy more efficient. The Cabinet announcement is the latest in a series of policy changes aimed at carrying out the ruling Communist Party's promises to give entrepreneurs and foreign investors a bigger role in the state-dominated economy.
- Strong new drug sales helped Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis AG report a 24 percent rise in first-quarter profit. The company said Thursday that its net profit of nearly $2.97 billion, which was up from $2.42 billion in the same period last year, was helped by sales growth from some of its newest product launches, such as Gilenya for multiple sclerosis and Afinitor for cancer.