Stock Futures Extend Climb Ahead of Fed


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U.S. stock-index futures signaled the S&P 500 could extend its climb into record territory as traders mulled weaker-than-expected jobs data and awaited the Fed's policy decision.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:32 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 32 points to 15649, S&P 500 futures gained 2.3 points to 1770 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 12.8 points to 3397.

Get ready for a busy day on Wall Street.

There are several important economic reports on tap, corporate earnings out, and a monetary policy decision due.

First up on the economic docket was a report from ADP. The payroll processor said private-sector employment increased by 130,000 in October, shy of estimates of 150,000.

The report "reinforces the idea that job creation in October isn’t going to be any more robust than any recent month," according to Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG.

The Labor Department said consumer prices rose 0.2% in September from the month prior, matching expectations. Excluding the food and energy sectors, inflation rose 0.1% , slightly lower than the 0.2% expected.

Both employment and prices are critical factors for the Federal Reserve as it decides on its monetary-policy path. The central bank has a dual mandate to keep the unemployment rate at its natural level while also keeping prices in check. Thus far, the Fed has focused on increasing employment since inflation remains beneath its target level.

To that end, the Fed has enacted an $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program -- dubbed QE3. It's also kept interest rates at historic lows since the financial crisis.

The central bank unveils its latest policy decision at 2 p.m. ET. Fed watchers broadly expect the central bank to hold steady for the moment, and perhaps begin tapering the asset purchases in December or March. Still, any hints on timing could roil the fixed income markets, traders said.

"It seems US equity markets are increasingly pegging hopes on the Fed sustaining its super-loose monetary policy well into 2014," analysts at Barclays wrote to clients Wednesday. The investment bank, warns, however, that "the market may be getting ahead of itself, although tonight’s FOMC meeting is unlikely to provide any discouragement."

On the earnings front, General Motors (NYSE:GM) posted better-than-expected third-quarter profits, sending its shares higher. Automakers are often seen as a proxy for the broader economy and consumer sentiment.

In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures dipped 88 cents, or 0.9%, to $97.32 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.43% to $2.621 a gallon. In metals, gold rose $4.50, or 0.33%, to $1,350 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 climbed 0.44% to 3064, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.46% to 6806 and the German DAX advanced 0.36% to 9054.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.2% to 14502 and the Chinese Hang Seng surged 2% to 23304.

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