LONDON -- Stock index futures as of 6:30 a.m. EDT indicate that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) may open up by 114 points, or 0.76%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) is expected to open flat. It's been four weeks since May 22, when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that stimulus measures might be tapered if employment data showed sustained improvement, but despite the volatility we've seen during that period, the Dow closed last night 11 points higher than its May 22 close.
Most European markets edged lower this morning ahead of the conclusion of today's Federal Reserve policy meeting. At 7:20 a.m. EDT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.48%, France's CAC 40 was down 0.66%, and the German DAX was down 0.17%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 and the TOPIX both closed 1.8% higher earlier today, making them the top performers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Yesterday's inflation data was the last possible input for today's FOMC decision on monetary policy, which is due at 2 p.m. EDT. This will be followed at 2:30 p.m. EDT by Bernanke's press conference, at which he is likely to comment further on the Fed's outlook on the economy and his view on the future of the Fed's stimulus programs. Chairman Bernanke's words will be closely scrutinized, and the Dow and S&P 500 are likely to be fairly volatile during and immediately after Bernanke's comments.
Although the Fed is likely to overshadow any corporate news today, one set of quarterly results may be worth focusing on. Package delivery giant FedEx is generally considered to be a good economic indicator; when the global economy is good, parcel volumes rise, and when things are tough, they fall. This morning the company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $2.13 per share (excluding items), beating analysts' expectations of $1.95 per share and the prior-year quarter's EPS of $1.99. FedEx stock closed 1.1% higher yesterday and is up 1.3% in premarket trading this morning.
One other stock that may be actively traded this morning is Adobe Systems, which is up by 6.4% in premarket trading this morning after the firm's quarterly results beat expectations last night.
Finally, let's not forget that the Dow's daily movements can add up to serious long-term gains. Indeed, Warren Buffett recently wrote, "The Dow advanced from 66 to 11,497 in the 20th Century, a staggering 17,320% increase that materialized despite four costly wars, a Great Depression and many recessions." If you, like Buffett, are convinced of the long-term power of the Dow, you should read "5 Stocks To Retire On." Your long-term wealth could be transformed, even in this uncertain economy. Simply click here now to download this free, no-obligation report.