Futures Pointing To Slightly Higher Open On Wall Street

With the Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated monetary policy announcement due this afternoon, stocks may move to the upside in early trading on Wednesday.

The major index futures are currently pointing to a slightly higher open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures up by 0.2 percent.

Stocks may continue to benefit from optimism about the outlook for interest rates, which has helped lift the major averages to their best levels in well over a year in recent sessions.

With the Fed widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, traders will look to the accompanying statement and projections for hints the central bank could be planning to pivot to cutting rates next year.

“The market remains steadfast in its belief that the Fed will cut rates as early as this spring, although the Fed may want to keep its options open if its campaign to quell inflation hasn’t completed the more difficult ‘last mile,'” said Quincy Krosby, Chief Global Strategist for LPL Financial.

She added, “The Fed statement in concert with the ‘dot plot,’ coupled with Powell’s comments, should offer markets more clarity and hopefully less confusion over the Fed’s path towards price stability.”

Potentially adding to the positive sentiment, the Labor Department released a report showing producer prices in the U.S. unexpectedly came in flat during the month of November.

The report said the producer price index for final demand was unchanged in November after falling by a revised 0.4 percent in October.

Economists had expected producer prices to inch up by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.5 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.

The Labor Department also said the annual rate of producer price growth slowed to 0.9 percent in November from 1.2 percent in October. Year-over-year growth was expected to slow to 1.0 percent.

After moving mostly higher over the past few sessions, stocks saw some further upside during trading on Tuesday. The major averages recovered from an early pullback and climbed firmly into positive territory as the day progressed.

The major averages once again finished the session at their best closing levels in well over a year. The Dow climbed 173.01 points or 0.5 percent to 36,577.94, the Nasdaq advanced 100.91 points or 0.7 percent to 14,533.40 and the S&P 500 rose 21.26 points or 0.5 percent to 4,643.70.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slumped by 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved modestly higher on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.60 to $69.21 a barrel after plunging $2.71 to $68.61 a barrel on Tuesday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $2,000.70, up $7.50 compared to the previous session’s close of $1,993.20. On Tuesday, gold edged down $0.50.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 145.43 yen compared to the 145.45 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.0793 compared to yesterday’s $1.0794.

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