The Fed, Front and Center
Wall Street's attention turns toward the Federal Reserve today as policy makers begin their meeting, before telling us tomorrow what they decide to do about interest rates and economic stimulus.
After the Fed’s announcement Wednesday, chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a press conference at about 2:15 p.m. ET. Wall Street is widely expecting the Fed to extend its Operation Twist program that is set to expire at month’s end.
In the meantime, stock futures are set to open flat to slightly higher Tuesday.
Yesterday was a mixed session; the Dow lost 25 points while the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 rose to their highest levels in a month.
The largest U.S. drugstore chain, Walgreen (NYSE:WAG), says it will spend $6.7 billion to buy a 45% stake in UK’s largest health and beauty retailer, Alliance Boots. Walgreen has an option to buy the rest of the company, too.
The deal creates the first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise. Walgreen shares are rising in the pre-market on the news.
Separately, Walgreen reported earnings of $537 million in its fiscal third quarter. That includes a one cent per diluted share charge due to costs related to the Boots transaction. Walgreen also increased its dividend for the 37th consecutive year.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last night unveiled its new “Surface” tablet computer that is expected to hit store shelves later this year. Surface will aim to do everything Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad doesn’t; it will have a cover that snaps into a full keyboard, an attached pen, and a built-in kickstand, to name a few of the perks.
Microsoft debuted two versions of Surface: one running an ARM processor featuring Microsoft's new tablet OS, Windows RT, and one running an Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Core processor featuring the Windows 8 Pro operating system.
Microsoft is manufacturing the device and price points were not disclosed, but it’s expected that the first version will be comparable to rival tablets, and the premium version will cost around $1,000.