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Wall Street Awaits Fed Minutes Amid Apprehension


Sentiment seems to have turned cautious once again on Tuesday, as indicated by the U.S. index futures, which point to a modestly lower open. Traders may stay focused on the U.S. factory orders report, monthly sales results due to be reported by automakers and the minutes of the March FOMC meeting. Earlier in the day official data revealed that China's non-manufacturing sector moved into expansion territory in March.
As of 6:30 am ET, the Dow futures are receding 20 points, the S&P 500 futures are slipping 2.60 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are declining 2.50 points.

The Commerce Department is due to release its report on factory goods orders for February at 10 am ET. Economists estimate a 1.5 percent increase in orders for factory goods following a 1 percent drop in the previous month. Durable goods orders, which make up the bulk of factory goods, rose by a less than expected 2.2 percent in February compared to the previous month.

The Federal Reserve is due to release the minutes of its March 13th meeting at 2 pm ET.

San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams is due to participate in a San Francisco University Symposium simulating an FOMC meeting at 4:05 pm ET. He will take questions from local reporters.

Individual automakers are scheduled to release their monthly U.S. sales results for March. Economists expect domestic vehicle sales of 14.7 million for March compared to 15.1 million in February.

In corporate news, Standard & Poor's announced that 3D Systems (DDD) will replace Taleo Corp. (TLEO) in the S&P SmallCap 600 Index after the close of trading on April 5th. Oracle (ORCLE) is acquiring Taleo in a deal expected to be completed about that date.

Kraft Foods (KFT) announced that its North American grocery business has filed an initial Form 10 registration statement with the U.S. SEC relating to its previously announced plan to divide and create two public companies, namely global snacks business and North American grocery business before the end of 2012.

Pep Boys (PBY) reported a fourth quarter loss of 8 cents per share compared to a profit of 16 cents per share in the year-ago period. Sales rose 5.9 percent to $505.3 million, exceeding the consensus estimate.

RealNetworks (RNWK) announced the appointment of Tim Wan as CFO and Treasurer, effective April 18th, 2012. Wan will replace Michael Eggers, who announced his retirement recently.

Molson Coors Brewing (TAP) signed an agreement with StarBev, owned by funds advised by CVC Capital Partners and StarBev Management, to buy the latter for $3.54 billion.

The major Asian markets ended mostly higher, with the exception of the Japanese, Taiwanese and New Zealand markets. The Chinese market remained closed for a public holiday. The optimism stemmed from the positive U.S. manufacturing reading released overnight.

Australia's All Ordinaries hovered in positive territory for much of the session, barring a mid-session collapse. The index closed up 8 points or 0.18 percent at 4,424. Energy and material stocks saw modest buying interest.

Following a rate-setting meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia retained the benchmark cash rate unchanged at 4.25 percent for a third consecutive time. The central bank hinted at further monetary policy easing at its next meeting after assessing the inflation outcome for the March quarter. Rates have been kept on at each of the past two meetings after the central bank reduced rates by 25 basis points at its December meeting. The monetary policy-setting arm does not meet in January.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 268.72 points or 1.31 percent at 20,791 ahead of Wednesday's public holiday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 average languished in negative territory throughout the session before closing down 59.48 points or 0.59 percent at 10,050. An increase in risk appetite strengthened the yen, which exerted downward pressure on export stocks. Real estate stocks also came under significant selling pressure. Sumitomo Realty, Shionogi, Mitsubishi Estate, Heiwa Real Estate and Chugai Pharma were among the worst decliners of the session.

The major European markets are retreating after yesterday's solid advances. The French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are receding 0.43 percent and 0.12 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is slipping 0.21 percent.

On the economic front, construction purchasing managers' index for the U.K. rose to a near 2-year high of 56.7 in March from 54.3 in February, according to the results of a survey by Markit.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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