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Fed Taper Decision, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Zillow, Markets and Braves - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks mixed as Fed decision looms; Powell's taper signal clear, inflation views remain uncertain; Bed, Bath & Beyond shares soar on Kroger deal; Zillow shuts down its home-buying business and the Atlanta Braves win baseball's World Series championship.

Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, November 3:

1. -- Stocks Futures  Cautious As Fed Decision Awaits 

U.S. equity futures were mixed Wednesday, with investors around the world cautiously navigating a series of risk headlines ahead of what could be one of the most important Federal Reserve meetings in more than a decade. 

With growth slowing in China as COVID infections rise and the government lurches from one attack on corporate profitability to the next, Asia stocks trailed global gains with investors eyeing the outcome of today's Fed policy meeting in Washington. European stocks, meanwhile, slipped from another all-time high once traders parsed through another busy slate of corporate earnings.

On Wall Street, stocks look primed for a mixed open, with little-changes priced in to the three major benchmarks ahead of today's Fed decision at 2:00 PM Eastern time and pre-market earnings from CVS Health  (CVS) - Get CVS Health Corporation Report, Marriott  (MAR) - Get Marriott International, Inc. Class A Report and Humana  (HUM) - Get Humana Inc. Report.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a modest 2 point opening decline while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 1 point move to the downside. Futures tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite are indicating a 10 point gain from last night's close.

2. --  Fed Taper Signals Clear, Inflation Forecasts Uncertain 

Federal Reserve officials will unveil the results of their two-day policy meeting at 2:00 PM Eastern time, with analysts looking for details as to how -- and indeed when -- the central bank will begin slowing the pace of its monthly bond purchases. 

The Fed has been buying $120 billion in government, corporate and agency bonds each month as part of its broader effort to keep market interest rates low and stimulate growth and employment. 

However, with inflation running at the hottest pace in three decades, and growth rebounding firmly from pandemic lows, removing some of those purchases -- analysts expect a so-called 'taper' of around $15 billion a month -- will not only allow for smoother price discovery in Treasury markets, but also mark the first step towards a formal interest rate hike sometime late next year. 

The timing of that move, however, may also be linked to comments today from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who has thus far insisted that inflationary pressures will ease next year as supply chain become unstuck and energy prices retreat. 

3. --  Bed, Bath and Beyond to the Moon

Bed, Bath & Beyond  (BBBY) - Get Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Report rocketed higher in pre-market trading after the home retailer -- and one-time meme stock -- unveiled a distribution partnership with Kroger Co KR and said it would complete its $1 billion share repurchase program by the end of its fiscal year.

Bed, Bath & Beyond said the deal will see its signature and 'BuyBuy Baby' products sold on, as well as in the grocery chain's physical stores, starting in 2022.

The retailer will also step-up its 2021 share repurchases from $325 million to $625 million, with an aim to complete its $1 billion program by the end of February - three years ahead of its original schedule. 

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Bed, Bath & Beyond shares were marked 60.9% higher in pre-market trading Wednesday to indicate an opening bell price of $29.65 each..

4. --  Zillow Shutters Home-Buying Business 

 Zillow Group  (ZG) - Get Zillow Group, Inc. Class A Report slumped lower in pre-market trading after the home buying website shut down its house-flipping business and after a bigger-than-expected third quarter loss.

Zillow said it will wind down its Zillow Offers business, which purchases homes directly through its site for near-term resale, over the coming months after it "determined the unpredictability in forecasting home prices far exceeds what we anticipated." The decision follows a $304 million write-down to its existing inventory of around 6,000 homes and will likely lead to a workforce reduction of around 25%, the company said.

Another $240 million to $265 million in losses will be booked in the current quarter as homes bought earlier this year are ultimately closed, Zillow said.

Zillow shares were marked 16.5% lower in pre-market trading Wednesday to indicate an opening bell price of $71.40 each. 

5. --  Atlanta Braves Win World Series, Snapping 26-Year Drought 

The Atlanta Braves ended a 26-year championship drought by pasting the Houston Astros 7-0 last night to earn the team's first World Series since 1995. 

In one of the biggest turnarounds in baseball history, the Braves-- who weren't expected to challenge for the pennant until at least mid-August - knocked off both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers to earn their spot in this year's World Series against the heavily-favored Astros.

However, despite the loss of starting pitcher Charlie Morton to a broken leg in game one, the Braves were able to dominate the Astros with consistent hitting, superb base-running and disciplined defense. 

Last night's win, which included a monster 446 feet home run from Jorge Soler -- who only joined the team in late July -- also snapped a streak of 16 consecutive appearances in post-season play without a win for the Braves.

"We hit every pothole, every bump you could possibly hit this year, and somehow the car still made it onto the other side," said the Braves star first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "It's just an incredible group."

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