After weeks and months of anticipation and speculation, markets around the world will finally know the answer to a question that has dogged traders, investors, and even the mildly curious: What is to become of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monthly $85 billion bond-buying program?
The stimulus, which is popularly known as quantitative easing, or QE, has helped prop up the U.S. economy and markets around the world, which have struggled in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In recent weeks, a growing trove of economic data and official rhetoric have all but convinced investors that the Fed will begin winding down its stimulus, but what is not known is, by how much and in what time frame.
“We suspect the renewed strength of employment growth in the past few months will be just enough to persuade the Fed to begin tapering its monthly asset purchases," a note from Capital Economics said, adding: “It will be a close call, however.”
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.29 percent and futures on the S&P 500 were up 0.36 percent while those on the Nasdaq 100 were up 0.3 percent.
According to Capital Economics, the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, can be expected to begin tapering its bond-buying program with a "a small $10bn reduction in purchases to $75bn per month, evenly split between Treasury securities and MBS" and the Fed can also be expected to "take steps to strengthen its forward guidance on rates, in an attempt to offset the impact of tapering on long-term borrowing costs."
The FOMC is expected to make its monetary policy announcement at 2 p.m. EST. Before markets open, data on housing starts in the month of November are due at 8:30 a.m. EST.
In Europe, stocks were trading well within positive territory, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index trading up 0.85 percent while the FTSE 100 was up 0.34 percent. Germany’s DAX-30 was up 0.91 percent while France's CAC-40 was up 0.68 percent.
In Asia, stocks were mixed with Japan’s Nikkei ending the day up 2.02 percent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.14 percent. The Shanghai Composite index dipped 0.13 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.32 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index was up 0.45 percent while India’s BSE Sensex rose 1.2 percent.