Stock Futures Up Sharply On Fed Clarity Hopes

U.S. stock market futures made a strong push north on Monday, as investors grew hopeful that this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting will soothe anxieties over when and how the central bank will pull back the throttle on stimulus. 

Data on deck includes a manufacturer’s report and a home builders’ index. Gains for futures came against a backdrop of strong overseas markets, with the Nikkei Stock Average  retaking the 13,000 level.

Futures for the Dow industrials  rose 118 points, or 0.8%, to 15,103, while those for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index  rose 13.1 points, or 0.8%, to 1,631.50. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index  rose 28 points, or 1%, to 2,965.25. 

“We suspect that this week Bernanke will continue to say tapering will happen at some point, could happen this year but will be data-dependent, and that we are still a long way off from removing the very easy policy stance the Fed has in place,” said Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche Bank.

“We still think that the Fed will struggle to taper very much and very early, but the debate is now going to be around for a while,” said Reid. 

Fawad Razaqzada, market strategist at GFT Markets, said in a note that “ultimately what was perceived as an imminent event just a few days ago — the beginning of the end of QE — does seem to have been pushed to the back-burner.”

The two-day FOMC meeting will conclude Wednesday with a press conference held by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Wall Street Journal’s Jon Hilsenrath, who last week reported that the Fed will likely push back on market expectations of a rate rise, said in a blog post on Sunday that investors should be focusing on the Fed’s projections for growth, inflation and unemployment, due at the conclusion of that meeting. 

What the Fed says “about the economy will send important signals about what they expect to do in the future. If they maintain confidence in their economic forecasts, it could signal they think they’re on track to begin pulling back the program later this year,” Hilsenrath wrote.

Ahead of that meeting, the Empire State manufacturing survey is expected to come in flat, after falling into negative territory in May for the first time since January. That report is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. 

At 10 a.m. Eastern, the home builders’ index for June will be released.

The rebound for stock futures on Monday comes in the wake of a third weekly loss in four for Wall Street, as investors grew more cautious over whether the economy can bear a tapering of the Fed’s stimulus program, notably bond buying worth $85 billion a month. 

The Dow industrials  fell 1.2% for the week, losing 105.90 points, or 0.7%, to 15,070.18 on Friday. The S&P 500 index  retreated 9.63 points, or 0.6%, to 1,626.73, ending the week with a 1% drop.

In overseas markets, most Asian markets extended gains, with Japan stocks rebounding in particular as the yen retreated. Gold turned lower and oil moved up.

Source : Marketwatch