U.S. stocks are showing hesitancy ahead of today's Fed announcement with futures pointing to a lower opening. Japanese stocks were higher overnight and European stocks trade lower after initial strength. The U.S. dollar was weaker ahead of the Fed overnight, as the yen slid to a record low against the Euro. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan helped push the dollar lower yesterday with his comments that the US currency could continue to be weak for several years.
FED FOCUS The Fed is not expected to take action on rates, but its statement this afternoon will be watched closely to see if it reveals new clues about its thinking on inflation and the economy. The bond market has increasingly priced in expectations that the Fed could cut rates early next year due to economic weakness.
After yesterday's slump, oil is steady this morning as investors begin to focus on Thursday's OPEC meeting in Nigeria.
STOCKS IN THE NEWS. Some big blue chips make headlines today. Hewlett-Packard meets analysts in New York today and should give some insight into its outlook. Our Jim Goldman has flown in from Silicon Valley to be there. General Electric (parent company of CNBC)discusses its '07 outlook with investors at 3 p.m. ET. CEO Jeff Immelt's address will be web cast and will be watched both for his comments on the company and on the economy.
And Citigroup shares are weaker this morning after the big bank ended market speculation about a management shakeup and restructuring with an announcement late yesterday of changes in its management ranks. Robert Druskin, the head of corporate and investment banking, has been named COO. Michael Klein and Thomas Maheras were named co presidents. Citigroup signaled that no further management changes are expected. The stock has moved higher for two sessions on rumors the bank would take more dramatic action with a management shakeup or asset sale.
Goldman Sachs reports earnings today, the first broker to release Q4 profits. Our Rebecca Jarvis will report and give a look ahead at what's expected when other Wall Street firms report profits later in the week. The firm is expected to report earnings per share of $6.04.
Texas Instruments warned late yesterday of weaker than expected sales.
GOING HOSTILE Nasdaq formally launched its hostile $5.3 billion offer for the London Stock Exchange Group. Nasdaq currently holds 28.75 percent of LSE but needs more than half to grab control.
In other merger news, The Wall Street Journal reports that Delta met by conference call to discuss US Airways $8.5 billion unwelcome bid. The paper says directors will provide a formal position in several days. Airline stocks were aloft on takeover fever yesterday, after Northwest Friday said it wanted to review its options. In the consolidating travel business, Sabre Holdings agrees to be bought by Texas Pacific and Silver Lake Partners, says the New York Times.
In the scandal that never seems to end, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that an SEC economists found new evidence that executives may have manipulated stock options as part of a tax dodge.