Stock Futures Climb as Traders Await Fed Decision


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U.S. stock-index futures pushed higher Wednesday as traders eagerly awaited the Fed's policy decision and digested much better-than-expected housing data.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:46 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 34 points, or 0.22%, to 15844, S&P 500 futures advanced 3.5 points, or 0.2%, to 1776 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 5.2 points, or 0.15%, to 3466.

Fed day is here.

Traders have been waiting for weeks to see if the Federal Reserve will begin paring back its $85-billion-a-month bond purchasing program. A series of better-than-expected economic reports have left Wall Street unsure of exactly what the powerful central bank will do on the heels of its two-day meeting.

Analysts at Barclays echoed the Street's sentiment in a note to clients Tuesday.

"Although better US economic data and the Congressional budget deal last week increased the probability of taper, we believe many on the FOMC require more evidence that the rate of growth is accelerating and inflation is firming before slowing the pace of purchases," analysts at the UK-based investment wrote.

The central bank's decision is set to be released at 2 p.m. ET, and that will be followed by a press conference from Chairman Bernanke at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Elsewhere on the economic docket was a wrath of data on the new housing market.

The Commerce Department reported housing starts surged 22.7% in November, the biggest increase since January 1990, to an annual rate of 1.09 million units, well above Wall Street's expectations of an increase to 950,000 units. Housing permits fell 3.1% to an annualized rate 1 million units, versus expectations of 990,000 units.

In corporate news, FedEx (NYSE:FDX) shares came under pressure after the shipping giant posted weaker-than-expected quarterly results. CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) boosted its dividend 22% and also revealed a full-year profit view that was within the range Wall Street anticipated.

In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures climbed 9 cents, or 0.09%, to $97.31 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.59% to $2.665 a gallon. Gold advanced $1.70, or 0.14%, to $1,232 a troy ounce.

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