Earnings, global data on the calendar

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Today's calendar has a wide array of economic and corporate releases.

Chinese manufacturing numbers reported overnight could affect energy and commodity prices. Germany, France, and the Eurozone follow with their own purchasing managers index early this morning.

Weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET will be the main U.S. economic report. Forecasters anticipate an increase to about 360,000 from 335,000 last week. A lower number would be considered bullish because it would indicate that fewer people have lost their jobs, while the opposite would be true if the reading is higher.

The Conference Board will announce its index of leading economic indicators at 10 a.m. ET. The data provides helpful clues about the direction of the economy, but it will probably have little impact on sentiment because most of its components are already known.

The Energy Department will follow with inventories for natural gas at 10:30 a.m. ET and crude oil at 11 a.m. ET.

In addition to the economic news, there is a heavy calendar of earnings. The pre-market is expected to see big names including 3M, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Xerox, and Union Pacific. Microsoft, AT&T, and Juniper Networks follow after the close.

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