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Wall Street Mustering Optimism Ahead Of FOMC Decision

Wall Street Mustering Optimism Ahead Of FOMC Decision
3/20/2013 6:31 AM ET

Wall Street is on an attempt to break free of the lackluster sentiment witnessed in the past three sessions, as reflected by the U.S. index futures, which point to a higher opening on Wednesday. Although the FOMC decision is not expected to throw in any surprise, traders may look ahead for confirmation of the Fed's commitment to continue its bond buying program as long as it is warranted. The Cypriot issue is still on the radar, as the nation scrambles to put forward a Plan B that could help it to secure bailout financing, now that the bank levy proposal has fallen through.

As of 6:15 pm ET, the Dow futures are moving up 40 points, while the S&P 500 futures are adding 5.50 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are rising 15.75 points.

U.S. stocks moved about in a lackluster manner on Tuesday amid apprehensions concerning the Fed decision and the Cypriot bailout plans before ending mixed.

Following the conclusion of a 2-day meeting, the FOMC will release its post-meeting policy statement at 2 pm ET. Around the same time, the Fed will also release its updated economic forecasts. At 2:30 pm ET, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to address a press briefing to explain the Fed decision.

The Energy Information Administration will release its oil inventory report for the week ended March 15th at 10:30 am ET.

In corporate news, Adobe Systems (ADBE) reported first quarter non-GAAP earnings of 35 cents per share on revenues of $1.008 billion. The results exceeded estimates.

AAR (AIR) reported third quarter results that exceeded estimates and its guidance was positive.

Williams-Sonoma (WSM) reported fourth quarter earnings of $1.34 per share, up 15 percent year-over-year, while its net revenues rose to $1.406 billion from $1.268 billion in the year-ago period. The company also announced a new 3-year $750 million stock buyback program and also a 41 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 31 cents per share. For 2013, the company expects earnings of $2.65-$2.75 per share on net revenues of $4.20 billion to $4.28 billion. The results exceeded estimates and the guidance was upbeat.

Cintas' (CTAS) third quarter earnings were below estimates, while its revenues exceeded expectations. The company updated 2013 earnings guidance trailed expectations, while the revenue guidance was above expectations.

True Religion (TRLG) announced the resignation of its founder Chairman and CEO Jeff Lubell, with its board appointing the company's president Lynne Koplin as its interim CEO.

Patterson Companies (PDCO) said its board approved a new share repurchase authorization plan to buy back up to 25 million shares. The board also approved a 14 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 16 cents per share.

Oracle (ORCL), CLARCOR (CLC), Guess? (GES), Herman Miller (MLHR), Jabil Circuit (JBL) and Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) are among the companies due to release their quarterly results after the close of trading.

The Asian markets closed mixed, with the Chinese, Hong Kong, Malaysian, Indonesian and New Zealand markets advancing, while the Indian, South Korean, Singaporean and Taiwanese markets fell. The Japanese market was closed for a public holiday. With the Cypriot bank tax proposal now voted down, uncertainty concerning a bailout package for the beleaguered nation increased, creating indecision among traders.

China's Shanghai Composite rallied 59.94 points or 2.66 percent before closing at a 2-week high of 2,317. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 214.58 points or 0.97 percent at 22,256.

Meanwhile, Australia's All Ordinaries languished below the unchanged line throughout the session before closing down 21.80 points or 0.44 percent at 4,983. Energy, material and healthcare stocks were the worst performers of the session, while financial stocks also saw modest weakness.

On the economic front, a leading economic indicators index for Australia compiled by Westpac and the Melbourne Institute rose to 288.2 in January from 287.3 in December. Two of the four components recorded improvement during the month.

European stocks are rebounding after a 3-session slide on some profit taking amid the developments in Cyprus and ahead of the FOMC meeting.

In corporate news, German retailer Metro AG reported a decline in its full year profits and also forecast a drop in operating profit for the nine months ending September. Deutsche Bank lowered its profit forecast for 2012, as it increased its legal reserves by 33 percent to 2.4 billion euros.

A report released by the German Federal Statistical Office showed that producer prices rose 1.2 percent year-over-year in February compared to the 1.7 percent increase in January. Economists had expected an inflation rate of 1.5 percent.

Current account balance released by Eurostat showed a surplus of 14.8 billion euros for January, down from 16 billion euros in December. The minutes of the Bank of England's March meeting showed that policymakers voted unanimously to hold rates at 0.50 percent, while splitting by a 6-3 margin to maintain the bank's 375 million pound bond buying program. A report released by the U.K. Office for National Statistics showed that U.K.'s claimant count for February fell 1,500 compared to expectations for a drop of 5,000.

by RTT Staff Writer

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