By Angela Moon
NEW YORK | Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:31am EDT
(Reuters) – Stock index futures rose on Wednesday as the focus shifted from concerns about Cyprus’s financial health to the statement from the Federal Reserve’s policy committee and news conference by Chairman Ben Bernanke later in the day.
The Federal Reserve looks set to sustain its $85 billion monthly bond-buying stimulus despite improving U.S. economic data as a new flare-up in the euro zone crisis from Cyprus’s troubles reminds officials of a risky global environment.
The Fed will release the FOMC statement and the Summary of Economic Projections at 2:00 p.m. ET (2.00 p.m. ET). Bernanke’s news conference is due around 2:30 p.m.
“The market will try really hard to read between the lines, especially after the last one, to see if there are any changes in the Fed’s stance,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
“Fundamentals are improving but we are still not at the critical level where the economy and the stock market can grow organically. So the market reaction, if there are any changes, could be big.”
Cypriot leaders held crisis talks on Wednesday to avert financial meltdown after the Cypriot parliament rejected the terms of a European Union bailout, throwing efforts to rescue the latest casualty of the euro zone debt crisis into disarray.
FedEx Corp (FDX.N) reported a 31 percent drop in quarterly profit due to restructuring costs and weakness in its air freight express business. The stock was off 3.4 percent in premarket trade.
A key U.S. bank regulator has called for improvement in the management of JPMorgan Chase on concerns linked to the multi-billion dollar “London Whale” trading loss last year, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing knowledgeable sources.
European Union lawmakers are expected to agree on Wednesday to bar bankers in Europe from getting bonuses bigger than their salary, introducing the first cap of its kind globally.
S&P 500 futures added 8 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 54 points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 76 points.
Roche Holding (ROG.VX) and a buyout group comprising KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) and Hellman & Friedman LLC have joined the bidding for Life Technologies Corp (LIFE.O), a genetic testing company coveted for its advanced diagnostics and steady cash flow, according to people familiar with the matter.
General Mills (GIS.N), the U.S. maker of Yoplait yogurt, Cheerios cereal and Progresso soups, reported a higher quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by the recent acquisitions of Yoki Alimentos in Brazil and Yoplait Canada. The stock was down 0.3 percent in premarket trade.
(Reporting By Angela Moon; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)