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Markets & Stocks

A mix-up for stocks?
U.S. markets set to open flat on persistence of $55 crude, election, earnings.
October 27, 2004: 8:42 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The persistence of $55-a-barrel oil and pre-election jitters could zap the nascent stock market rally when trading begins Wednesday, although some strong earnings and outlook from two Dow components could provide support.

Early Wednesday, Nasdaq and S&P futures pointed to a mixed open for the major indexes, although both futures were moved off earlier levels after consumer products maker Procter & Gamble (Research) and aircraft maker Boeing (Research) reported results.

P&G, maker of Crest toothpaste, Tide laundry detergent and a host of other products, earned 73 cents a share in its fiscal first quarter, a penny better than analysts' consensus forecast. It also said it was comfortable with full fiscal year that ends next June.

Boeing (Research) reported better-than-forecast earnings and raised its full-year earnings guidance for the third time this year, although it left its 2005 target unchanged.

For details of Tuesday's gains, click above.

Oil prices edged lower as traders await the government's inventory report, due at 10:30 a.m. ET, for signs of how severe heating oil shortages may be this winter. U.S. crude futures dipped 9 cents to $55.08 a barrel in electronic trading, while Brent oil futures slipped 19 cents to $51.37 a barrel in London.

With six days to go until the election -- and X days until the nation knows who won -- President Bush and Sen. John Kerry continue their marathon campaigning. The president plans stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, while the senator visits Iowa and Minnesota -- all states that are seen as too close to call.

After the markets open, the government will issue its report on new home sales for September. Economists surveyed by expect the annual rate to decline to 1,150,000 from 1,184,000 in August.

Durable goods orders for September rose 0.2 percent, less than the expected rise of 0.5 percent. The August durable goods report was also revised to a 0.6 percent decline rather than the 0.3 percent drop initially reported.

Insurance stocks paced a rally, particularly among blue-chip stocks, Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.4 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index rallied 0.8 percent (see chart for details).

Asian-Pacific stocks ended mixed, with Tokyo's Nikkei up 0.2 percent. European bourses were higher in early trading. (Check the latest on world markets)

Among U.S. stocks trading in Europe, Apple Computer (Research) fell more than 1 percent. The company said Tuesday it's coming out with a new iPod with a color screens that will hold digital pictures, as well as a special-edition iPod loaded with the Irish rock group U2's new album.

Treasury prices rose in early trading, sending the 10-year note yield down to 3.98 percent from 4 percent late Tuesday. The dollar was stronger against the euro and just a little higher against the yen. Gold was higher.  Top of page

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