The Federal Reserve's interest-rate announcement this afternoon
is today's big event, though there are other items on the calendar.
Weekly mortgage applications get the ball rolling at 7 a.m. ET,
followed by the fourth-quarter current account at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Economists expect a trade deficit of $87.6 billion versus $94.8
billion in the third quarter. While it's unlikely to affect
trading, the number provides useful information about the direction
of the U.S. economy, especially its burgeoning export sector.
Crude-oil inventories will be reported at 10:30 a.m. ET and could
sway sentiment among energy stocks.
The main items in the Fed's 2 p.m. ET announcement are the pace of
quantitative easing and plans for further reductions. Economists
expect Treasury purchases to be trimmed by $5 billion a month to
$30 billion and mortgage-bond purchases to be reduced by $5 billion
to $25 billion. They also think the overnight lending rate will
remain unchanged at 0.25 percent.
In addition, FedEx, General Mills, and KB Home will report
quarterly results before the opening bell. Jabil Circuit, Cintas,
Guess, and ExOne follow in the afternoon.
Tomorrow's calendar includes earnings from ConAgra and Lennar in
the morning, then Nike and Tibco Software after the close. Initial
jobless claims, existing home sales, and the Philadelphia Fed's
regional index are also the agenda.
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