RTTNews - Following two days of profit taking, stocks are poised to open Wednesday's session little changed, as traders are remaining on the sidelines ahead of the Federal Reserve's rate announcement later today. The major index futures are mixed, with the Dow futures up by 3 points.
The morning's economic data saw little reaction, with the Commerce Department releasing a report showing that the U.S. trade deficit widened in the month of June compared to the previous month. Nonetheless, the deficit for the month still came in narrower than economists had been anticipating.
With imports increasing at a faster pace than exports, the report showed that the trade deficit widened to $27.0 billion in June from $26.0 billion in May. Economists had been expecting a somewhat more significant increase in the size of the deficit to $28.7 billion.
Later today, traders will look to the policy announcement from the Federal Reserve at the conclusion of the FOMC meeting at 2.15 p.m. ET. While interest rates are likely be maintained at the current level, traders will pay close attention to the Fed's economic commentary along with any additional information on its quantitative easing measures.
In earnings news, Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT), the world's biggest semiconductor equipment maker, said after the markets closed Tuesday that it swung to a third quarter loss, as sales dropped 39 percent amid weak demand in light of the continuing global recession. Nonetheless, the bottom line beat analyst expectations.
Processed and packaged foods company Sara Lee (SLE) revealed a narrower loss for the fourth quarter, but the results fell well short of expectations. Meanwhile, department store operator Macy's (M) reported second quarter adjusted earnings that beat analyst estimates, although revenues fell just short of forecasts.
In overseas earnings, Swiss food and beverage company Nestle SA reported a decline in its net profit for the first half of the year, as sales declined in the tough economy. The company's profit attributable to non-controlling interests, however, increased significantly from last year.
The world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton (BHP) reported a 30 percent drop in its profit for the full year, excluding write downs, hurt by a sharp drop in metal prices and lower demand.
Stocks posted notable losses on Tuesday, as traders did some additional profit taking ahead of key economic data due out in the second half of the week. The Dow closed down by 97 points at 9,241, the Nasdaq slipped by 23 points to 1,970 and the S&P 500 fell by 13 points to 994.
Crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, moving up to $69.71 a barrel after moving notably lower in the previous session. Meanwhile, the price of gold is retreating, falling by $1.50 to $945.0 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is mixed against the major European currencies, dropping to $1.4156 against the euro while rising to $1.6463 versus the pound. The buck is little changed versus the yen, trading at 95.82 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished markedly lower on Wednesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index dropped by 1.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 3 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are moving higher, with the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both gaining by 0.4 percent, while the German DAX Index is up by 0.7 percent.
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