U.S. stocks could open lower on Tuesday, ahead of the publication of consumer inflation data and the housing market index, even as investors await the outcome of the two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee beginning today, which could decide the future of its massive stimulus program.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.06 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.13 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.11 percent.
The two-day FOMC meeting is expected to take a decision on winding down its $85-billion-a-month asset-purchase program, and the central bank is expected to announce a token reduction in the monetary stimulus, beginning next month.
“We continue to think that the FOMC will announce a reduction in those purchases on Wednesday. Given how far bond yields have risen in recent months in response to this prospect, we doubt that there would be a particularly adverse market reaction,” Capital Economics, said in a statement.
The committee is expected to release a statement at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday about the outcome of the meeting and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will address a news conference at 2.30 p.m. EDT to explain the FOMC's latest quarterly economic projections. Investors will closely watch both events for further clues on future monetary policy.
“Market expectations have moved to such a degree that by not tapering they would be generating confusion in markets. They might as well start to do it,” Mike Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc., told MarketWatch, in an interview.
Meanwhile, investors are also expected to focus on the Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index for August to be published on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The CPI, which measures the change in the price of goods and services from the consumer's perspective, is estimated to have registered a moderate gain of 0.1 percent in August, in comparison to a 0.2 percent gain in July.
The core CPI for June, which measures the changes in the price of goods and services excluding food and energy, is likely to remain steady at 0.2 percent.
The National Association of Home Builders' housing market index is expected to remain unchanged at 59 points in September. The index had recorded a gain of 3 points -- the highest reading since 2005 -- in August. A reading above 50 indicates a favorable outlook on home sales, while a reading below 50 indicates a negative outlook.
In Europe, markets climbed off multi-year highs clocked on Monday following reports that Lawrence Summers had dropped out of contention to be Bernanke's successor at the U.S. Fed. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was trading down 0.46 percent after closing at its highest level since 2008 on Monday. London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.34 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was down 0.18 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading down 0.32 percent.
Data released by the UK government showed that the CPI in August declined fractionally to 2.7 percent, from 2.8 percent in the previous month, in line with analysts' expectations, and producer prices declined by 0.2 percent in August, compared to a rise of 1.2 percent in July and against economists’ expectation of an increase of 0.2 percent.
The German Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, or ZEW, economic sentiment index, which gauges the six-month economic outlook, increased by 7.6 points to hit 49.6 points in September, up from the 42 points registered in the previous month. Analysts expected a reading of 46 points. The ZEW indicator for the 17-nation euro zone rose sharply to 58.6 in September, significantly up from 44 points in August.
In Asia, most markets traded lower on Tuesday ahead of the Fed’s policy review meeting, with Japan’s Nikkei closing down 0.65 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended up 0.06 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite index ended down 2.05 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.31 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index lost 0.39 percent and India’s BSE Sensex closed down 0.31 percent.