European equity markets are trading sideways this morning as there are no major macroeconomic stories for dealers to get excited by, and there haven't been a whole lot of corporate stories either.

BHP Billiton is broadly unchanged on the day after the company stated it is on track to achieve its full-year guidance. In the fourth-quarter, iron ore production increased by 8% and the annual production level came in at the lower end of expectations. Output of copper, metallurgical coal and petroleum declined. Overall it was a mixed production update and the market reaction has been reasonably muted.

Reckitt Benckiser is selling off its US operation for $4.2 billion, and the funds raised will go to paying down debt. The company’s share are higher on the day as investors are clearly happy with the deal. The stock gapped higher this morning and the share price is less than 200p shy of the record high of 8104p that was achieved in June.

The GBP/USD pair is largely unchanged on the day as the dust has settled after yesterday’s severe sell-off.

We are anticipating the Dow Jones to open 10 points lower at 21,564, and we are calling the S&P 500 unchanged at 2461.

At 1.30pm  (UK time), the US announces the housing starts number for June and the consensus is for 1.15 million on a month-on-month basis, and that compares with 1.09 million in May. At the same time, the US will reveal the building permits for June and the market is expecting 1.2 million and that would be an increase on May’s 1.16 million.

The energy information agency (EIA) will announce the oil inventory figures at 3.30pm, and traders are expecting a decline of 3.5 million barrels and that compares with last week drop of 7.56 million barrels. WTI and Brent Crude oil are up 0.5% in advance of the report.

Alcoa and American Express announce second-quarter numbers today.

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