U.S. Markets Set to Open Lower Despite Rallies Overseas

While European stocks rose to a four-month high and most Asian markets advanced, U.S. stock-index futures are lower this morning. No major U.S. economic reports are set for release today. Earnings are due from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) and Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX). But the focus will be on potential action by the European Central Bank (ECB) and possible signals of additional stimulus from the Federal Reserve later this week.

Federal Reserve policy makers will kick off a two-day meeting to start the week, culminating in an announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee on monetary policy Wednesday. A report last week that showed the economy expanded at a slower pace in the second quarter. Analysts do not expect further quantitative easing or other stimulus out of the Fed this week, but investors will be tuned in for any hints of further measures.

Corn, wheat and soybean futures have rallied more than 2%. Crop conditions are the poorest since 1988 and parts of the United States are suffering from the worst drought since 1956. Corn has soared 61% since June 15, signaling higher food prices and increased costs for producers of meat and ethanol.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are down about 0.1% and S&P 500 futures have declined 0.3%. Nasdaq 100 futures were down almost 0.1%.

ECB President Mario Draghi and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner meet in Frankfurt today after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande joined Draghi in promising to do everything to protect the euro. The central bank’s Governing Council meets in Frankfurt on Thursday. Investors will be watching to see if Draghi will announce any concrete steps to help relieve pressure in the eurozone.

The FTSE 100 index rose 0.7%. French CAC 40 index advanced 0.7% and the German DAX 30 index rose 0.6%.

Most Asian markets advanced Monday. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed 0.8% higher and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1.6%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index, though, fell 0.9% on lingering worries about the nation’s economic slowdown. That was its lowest finish since early March of 2009.

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