Dow Futures Firm Following China Data

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LONDON -- Stock index futures at 7am ET indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) may open up by 0.10% this morning, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) may open up 0.14%.

European markets were broadly flat this morning, following German Chancellor Angela Merkel's third-term victory in Germany's weekend elections. Merkel's party took just over 40% of the vote, leaving it just 5 seats short of an overall majority in the country's 630-seat parliament. Chancellor Merkel will now need to form a new coalition, as her party's previous coalition partners, the liberal FDP party, failed to win enough votes to gain any seats in parliament. Elsewhere, there was positive news from China, where the preliminary reading of the September China HSBC manufacturing PMI rose to 51.2, up from 50.1 in August and ahead of expectations. The PMI reading suggests that China's slowing economy may be rebalancing and finding a new, stable level of growth. At 7am ET, the FTSE 100 was down 0.27%, the DAX was down 0.12%, and the CAC 40 was up 0.05%.

Today's main US economic report is the September Markit flash PMI, which is due at 8.30am ET. Investors may also be increasingly focused on the potential for a government shutdown as a result of the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations in Washington. According to Treasury officials, the US debt ceiling needs to be increased by mid-October, or the nation will be unable to pay its bills.

In corporate news, BlackBerry could be actively traded today. Shares in the struggling smartphone maker were down by 5.8% in pre-market trading this morning, and closed down 17% on Friday, after the firm said that it would axe 4,500 jobs, and expected to report a net operating loss of nearly $1bn for the quarter ended August 31. BlackBerry recently confirmed that it is investigating options for the sale of the company, but this has only heightened the uncertainty surrounding its future. Hopes for the company's turnaround were pinned on its new generation BlackBerry 10 devices, but reports suggest that these are selling poorly and failing to deliver the promised increase in market share.

Elsewhere, today's earnings calendar is very light, although Linux pioneer Red Hat is scheduled to report its second-quarter earnings after the close tonight, with analysts forecasting earnings of $0.33 per share on revenue of $372m.

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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