Markets are trading broadly higher today in advance of Wednesday's start to a Federal Reserve meeting, where it is widely anticipated new actions to spur economic growth will be announced. Investors will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon for any indications from the Fed, with a statement expected at 12:30 p.m. EDT. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) was up around 120 points, a 1% gain on the day. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were also trading higher, up 1% and 1.2%, respectively
Moving to individual stocks, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) was leading all Dow components, rising 5% so far today. Reports surfaced earlier today that Swiss bank Julius Baer was in discussions with Bank of America to acquire its non-U.S. Merrill Lynch wealth management division. Baer, which has around $190 billion in assets under management, is expected to pay $2 billion to $2.5 billion according to various analyst estimates. In other positive news, news outlets are reporting that the Federal Housing Finance Authority will outline new guidelines that would lower mortgage repurchase obligations for lenders, which has been a meaningful headwind for U.S. banks.
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) is also a big gainer for the Dow, up 3.8% today. The move is due to initial reaction to the Surface, its own branded tablet Microsoft unveiled to the media yesterday afternoon. The new tablet family will consist of two devices boasting chipsets from ARM Holdings and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) . The ARM-based option will be available first, with the Intel version following a few months later. The high-profile move comes in advance of the rollout of Windows 8 devices expected later this year, and has many contemplating the strategy and its impact on other PC and device manufacturers using the new Windows operating system. Another tech stock rallying on the Microsoft news is NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) , up about 7% following news that its Tegra chips will be powering the ARM-based version of the Surface.
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