U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, after media reports citing a White House official said that President Barack Obama would nominate Janet Yellen as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next chairman on Wednesday.
The decision to nominate a dovish economist to chair the Fed is expected to cheer the markets, which are struggling to come to terms with a prolonged government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis. In addition, the Fed is expected to release the minutes of its latest policy meeting in September that would provide clues to the future the central bank's stimulus program.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.22 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.44 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.4 percent.
The nomination of 67-year-old Yellen, current vice chairman of the central bank, is expected to push stocks higher as many expect her to continue Ben Bernanke’s aggressive monetary policy and further delay the proposed tapering of the Fed’s $85 billion-a-month asset purchase program.
The minutes of the FOMC meeting held on Sept. 16-17 at Wednesday are scheduled to be released at 2 p.m. EDT, and are expected to provide a glimpse into the Fed’s thinking when it took a surprise decision to leave its monthly bond-buying program unchanged.
Meanwhile, the stalemate over passing the new Budget and increasing the debt ceiling limit has pushed the partial government shutdown to its ninth day with no respite in sight, as both House Republicans and Senate Democrats continue to spar over the twin issues.
In Europe, markets traded higher on Wednesday tracking U.S. futures and on expectations that Yellen would be appointed as the Fed’s next chairperson.
Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was up 0.17 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading up 0.49 percent. However, London’s FTSE 100 recovered from being down 0.4 percent to trading flat after data released on Wednesday showed that the country’s industrial production fell more than expected and trade deficit was recorded at 9.63 billion euros against analysts' projection of a deficit of 9 billion euros.
In Asia, most markets traded higher, with Japan’s Nikkei ending up 1.03 percent and China's Shanghai Composite index ended up 0.62 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended flat while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.63 percent.
India’s BSE Sensex ended the day up 1.33 percent after government data showed on Wednesday that the country’s trade deficit fell to an 18-month low in September. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index was closed for a local holiday.