The dollar is weaker and equities look to open higher as investors await the afternoon policy statement from the Federal Reserve Board.

Two hours before the opening bell, Dow futures are up 16 points to 10,592 and S&P 500 futures are 2.00 points higher at 1,147.75.

Commodities are also on the rise, with WTI crude oil up 18 cents to $79.98 per barrel and Spot Gold up $6.35 to $1,114.80.

Key Events Today:

8:30 ― Snow storms and poor weather are expected to push Housing Starts down in February, following a 2.8% gain in January. Demand remains weak overall, though new construction on residential homes is up 21% from last year. Expectations among economists are diverse, ranging from 530k to 591k, and the consensus is 565k.

“Although it is highly unlikely we will revisit the record lows seen last spring (479,000), the housing sector clearly continues to struggle, with the latest piece of evidence coming in the form of the unexpected deterioration in homebuilder sentiment,” said economists from BMO Capital Markets.

“Severe winter weather is likely to deliver another blow to the already-wobbly construction sector,” added economists from Nomura. “We forecast housing starts fell by about 5% to an annualized rate of just 560,000 in February, the lowest since October 2009.”

Building permits ― contracts that have been signed but not finalized ― are also expected to fall by around 3%, pushing the annualized pace to 605,000 units. 

2:15 ― The FOMC is expected to maintain the target interest rate in the band of zero to 0.25% for many more months, so attention will be on the statement itself rather than the meeting’s decision.

“The factors justifying the extremely low level of rates ― ‘low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations’ ― have not meaningfully changed,” said economists at Nomura. “We therefore expect the post-meeting statement to retain the ‘exceptionally low... for an extended period’ pledge.”

More generally, economists from IHS Global Insight said the statement should mention “further strengthening in the economic recovery, but continuing constraints on household spending due to tight credit, modest income growth and lower housing wealth.”

Treasury Auctions:


  • 11:30 ― 4-Week Bills