Market Hustle: Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Fed Rates Decision

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing higher Wednesday as investors turned their attention to the Federal Reserve, the U.S. current account deficit narrowed and U.K. growth forecasts were upgraded.

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 22 points, or 24.81 points above fair value, to 16,284 while S&P 500 futures were up 3 points, or 2.15 points above fair value, to 1,866.75. Nasdaq futures were up 7.8 points, or 4.78 points above fair value, to 3,702.8.
  • The focus on Wednesday will be the FOMC announcement at 2 p.m. EDT followed by a press conference with Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen. A further $10 billion reduction in the central bank's monthly bond-buying program is predicted. The FOMC announcement also is expected to unveil the abandonment of the 6.5% jobless threshold for considering whether to increase interest rates.
  • Fed officials are also anticipated to provide forward guidance based on a range of economic data, and include qualitative guidance.
  • The U.S. current account deficit fell to its lowest level in 14 years at $81.1 billion in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said.
  • U.S. stocks moved higher Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin calmed markets by assuring there would be no further moves into Ukraine. Weaker-than-expected housing data released Tuesday isn't expected to see the Federal Reserve vary from its course of cutting bond purchases this week.
  • International markets were generally looking to head higher with the FTSE 100 paring losses and trading sideways after the UK's economic growth was upgraded to 2.7% from 2.4% according to Chancellor George Osborne. The DAX in Germany up 0.74%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng settled down 0.07% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed up 0.36%.
  • FedEx (FDX) was off 0.41% after results were tarnished by the severe winter weather. The company's full-year outlook disappointed and its fiscal third-quarter earnings of $1.23 a share missed the average analyst estimate of $1.45 on lower-than-expected revenue.
  • General Mills (GIS) reported fiscal third-quarter earnings, missing estimates by 2 cents at 62 cents a share on weaker-than-expected sales in the face of increased competition from store brands and more marketing expenses.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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