US investors braced for Fed taper

Federal Reserve policymaker conclude a 2-day meeting today, and the 2 p.m. ET policy statement is widely expected to contain the declaration that the Fed has begun to taper its $85 billion per month bond-buying program. The Fed also issues its latest economic projections today, and chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a 2:30 p.m. ET news conference. The markets have been largely positive leading up to the Fed decision, with the S&P 500 having risen in 10 of the past 11 sessions.

Investors will have one government economic report to consider as they await the Fed statement, with August housing starts due to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists are looking for a 2.1 percent rise to an annual rate of 915,000 units, following July's 5.9 percent jump.

The Mortgage Bankers Association is out with its weekly look at mortgage applications at 7 a.m. ET, while the Energy Department is set to release its usual Wednesday look at oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

FedEx (FDX) and General Mills (GIS) are among the notable earnings reports due out this morning, while Oracle (ORCL) leads a short list of after-the-bell reports on the calendar today.

Adobe Systems (ADBE) leads our list of stocks to watch this morning, after reporting third quarter profit of 32 cents per share, excluding certain items, two cents below estimates, with revenues also falling short, as does its current quarter earnings and revenue projections. However, the software maker's stock is getting a boost from the company's statement that it's seeing strong corporate demand that is expected to boost subscriber growth for its Creative Cloud service.

Apple (AAPL) is seeing "not overwhelming" pre-orders for its new iPhone 5C, according to Reuters quoting sources. Apple's other new model, the 5S, was not made available for pre-order. Both phones are set to go on sale in stores on Friday.

Electronic Arts (EA) named Andrew Wilson, the head of its EA Sports division, as its new chief executive officer. Wilson is a 13-year veteran of the company, and his appointment follows a six month search that followed the ouster of John Riccitiello.

Dollar Tree (DLTR) announced a $2 billion stock buyback program, replacing a prior repurchase program that had begun in October 2011.

Starbucks (SBUX) is now in the midst of the country's debate over gun control laws, having asked its U.S. customers to leave their guns at home in the wake of the latest mass shootings. Starbucks currently has a policy of defaulting to local gun laws, unlike many restaurant chains and retailers who specifically prohibit firearms on their properties.

BlackBerry (BBRY) launched its new Z30 smartphone at an event in Malaysia, unveiling what will be its new flagship device as it tries to regain market share from Apple and Samsung.

Walgreen (WAG) will announce today that 120,000 employees will be moved to a private health insurance exchange from direct carrier coverage.

AT&T (T) will announce an expansion of its push into Latin America, through a collaboration with America Movil, the Mexican telecommunications giant controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim.

Pandora (P) won a significant court decision regarding music licensing, successfully pushing back an effort by music publishers to narrow the music that the internet radio service can play.

Tesla (TSLA) is working on a self-driving car, with CEO Elon Musk saying the company hopes to produce such a car within the next three years.