Stock set to open significantly lower

nyse premarkets 050514
U.S. stock futures are pointing lower ahead of the open.

Forget the snow. The blizzard of earnings hitting Wall Street looks even worse.

The Dow is set to open close to 300 points lower after poor earnings from Caterpillar (CAT). The company is blaming falling energy prices for its woes and cut expectations for the year.

A faltering Europe is also starting to hit corporate earnings. Procter & Gamble (PG) blamed the strong U.S. dollar and jitters elsewhere in the world for its sluggish earnings report.

Here are the five things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. Markets getting snowed under: U.S. stock futures are all pointing down ahead of the open as traders express disappointment over some quarterly results.

Shares in Microsoft (MSFT) and Caterpillar are both declining more than 7% after releasing their latest earnings.

Microsoft reported a drop in quarterly profit, largely due to the ongoing restructuring of the company. But sales are growing for just about every product Microsoft makes, except for Windows.

2. Earnings season in full swing:American Airlines (AAL), Pfizer (PFE) and Lockheed Martin (LMT) will also report quarterly earnings before the opening bell.

Apple (AAPL), Yahoo (YHOO), and AT&T (T) will report after the close.

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3. Natural gas bounce: Natural gas futures are bouncing by about 3% in New York. Traders appear to be expecting a surge in heating demand because of the cold weather slamming the northeastern United States.

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4. International markets overview: Most European markets are down in afternoon trading, with some major indexes off by more than 1%.

However, the Swiss stock exchange is up by about 1%. Swiss markets are clawing back some of the losses endured earlier this month after the central bank allowed the currency to float freely instead of being pegged to the euro.

Asian markets ended with mixed results.

5. Monday market recap: The Dow Jones industrial average gained a mere 6 points on Monday, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both put on about 0.3%.

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