Stock futures suggest a lower open to U.S. markets on Thursday after record closings in the previous trading session following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement of a winding down of its asset-purchase program, which underlined its growing confidence in the economic recovery.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or DJIA, were down 0.07 percent and futures on the S&P 500 were down 0.14 percent while those on the Nasdaq 100 were down 0.24 percent.
On Wednesday, the Fed announced that it would begin a modest reduction in its bond-buying program to $75 billion a month from the current $85 billion a month, beginning in January 2014.
“Our base case is for a balanced taper of $10 bn at each subsequent meeting, conditional on hitting the Fed’s forecasts,” a report from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said, adding: “We expect the Fed to deliver a gradual taper through year-end 2014 and to further strengthen their guidance.”
Following the announcement, the DJIA and the S&P 500 rallied 1.84 percent and 1.66 percent respectively to close at record highs.
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Investors, while attempting to understand the long-term implications of the Fed’s move, will also shift focus to more crucial data points, which are due on Thursday. Jobless claims data for the week ended Dec. 14 are due at 8:30 a.m. EST and data on existing home sales in November are scheduled for 10 a.m. EST.
"The changes in the statement and (Ben) Bernanke’s subsequent comments suggest the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) is satisfied with the pace of the labor market recovery," the report said, adding that the Fed would now begin focusing more on inflation, which remains stubbornly low and could "slow tapering and prolong the time to the first rate hike."
On Thursday, the development resonated across the world and triggered rallies in markets across Europe. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was trading up 1.35 percent while the FTSE 100 was up 0.88 percent. Germany’s DAX-30 was up 1.37 percent while France's CAC-40 was up 1.25 percent.
In Asia, however, markets continued to be mixed. Japan’s Nikkei rallied 1.74 percent to close at a six-year high and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed up 2.08 percent. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.95 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.1 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index was up 0.05 percent while India’s BSE Sensex ended the day down 0.73 percent.