Stock Futures Show Higher Open As Markets Await FOMC Meeting Outcome, And Data On Payroll And Inflation

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NYSE Traders
Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Oct. 3, 2013.

Investors will be all ears for what will be said after the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, meeting today even as the near-term future of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and its decision about its stimulus program appear to be a foregone conclusion.

The Fed is widely expected to leave monetary policy unchanged and key interest rates at historic lows, and to also leave its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying stimulus program untouched. However, what will be keenly watched is the FOMC’s take on the current health, and its prognosis, of the nation’s economy, which could have a considerable influence on the timing of the Fed’s decision to begin winding down the stimulus that markets around the world have gotten so attached to.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and those on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were both up 0.3 percent, while futures on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.4 percent.

“We expect no tapering and no changes to forward guidance" at this week’s meeting, Michael Hanson, senior U.S. economist for Bank of America, wrote in a note to clients, as reported by International Business Times on Tuesday.

Instead, many economists expect the tapering to begin in early next year -- in January or March -- while others say it could be pushed back even farther down the road. On the other hand, a few expect the decision to taper to come as early as at the next FOMC meeting in December, according to a MarketWatch report.

It all depends on how the FOMC interprets employment data, and if they view it to be weak, it could delay tapering until spring, Amna Asaf, an economist at Capital Economics, told MarketWatch. The monetary policy statement announcement is scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT.

Also due to be announced today are ADP’s private payroll data for October, scheduled for 8:15 a.m. EDT. Consumer price inflation, or CPI, data for September will be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Wednesday is yet another earnings-heavy day. Corporate giants such as Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq:CMCSA) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) will announce quarterly reports before markets open. Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Metlife Inc. (NYSE:MET) are among those scheduled to announce quarterly earnings after market hours.

In Europe, stocks were up in anticipation of a continuation of the U.S. Fed’s stimulus program. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.52 percent and London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.49 percent. Germany's DAX-30 was up 0.39 percent and France's CAC-40 was up 0.57percent.

Asian markets too traded higher, buoyed by the expectation that the U.S. Fed would not pull the plug on its quantitative easing, or QE, program anytime soon.

Japan’s Nikkei was up 1.23 percent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.28 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.38 percent. India’s benchmark BSE Sensex ended the day up 0.5 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 2 percent while the Shanghai Composite was up 1.48 percent ahead of quarterly earnings announcements from four major Chinese banks listed on these exchanges.

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