UPDATE 1-What to Watch in the Day Ahead - Wednesday, Sept. 17

Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:42pm EDT
 
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(Adds details on FOMC policy statement) Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen delivers a press conference after the FOMC policy statement. The Federal Reserve may lay a little groundwork for a future interest rate increase as it wraps up a two-day meeting. Economists are divided over whether the central bank may drop its pledge to wait a "considerable time" after ending a bond-buying program next month before raising interest rates. The Fed will leave rates unchanged and lop another $10 billion off its repurchase program. It will also issue its DOTs, economic projections, this time looking into 2017 for the first time. The key issue will be whether or how the Fed changes its "considerable time" reference to how long rates remain at the zero level bound after the repurchase program ends on Oct. 29. Its removal would produce a market reaction as it would imply earlier rate hikes than the second-quarter being penciled in by most economists at present. FedEx is expected to report a rise in first-quarter revenue and profit, helped by higher shipment volumes. The company, which gets 72 percent of its revenue from the United States, is affected by customer demand for services based on macro-economic factors and economic growth. During the last two months, the U.S. GDP and retail/e-commerce sales - a reflection of consumer spending - grew at a higher rate, according to the Commerce Department. Also cost cutting initiatives undertaken in 2013 at its largest business, FedEx Express, are expected to boost profit. Investors will be looking out for an update on the 2015 forecast and shipping preparations for the upcoming holiday season. U.S. consumer prices likely held steady last month, with the so-called core CPI gaining a modest 0.2 percent. That would keep the year-on-year gain in the core gauge steady at 1.9 percent, while pulling the gain in the headline index down to the same level (0830/1230). The National Association of Home Builders releases its housing index for September, which analysts expect has increased by one point to 56.0 from the prior month (1000/1400). The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly Mortgage Market Index which had a prior reading of 327.2 (0700/1100). Separately, the commerce dept. issues second-quarter current account data (0830/1230). Meanwhile, the Cleveland Fed issues median CPI for August which was 0.1 percent in July (1130/1530). General Mills, which this month acquired organic food producer Annie's, reports first-quarter earnings. It has been expanding its line of healthier foods, including making a protein-based granola bar, and struck a deal with McDonald's to sell its Yoplait yogurt as part of the fast food chain's Happy Meals. Lennar this year overtook PulteGroup to become the No. 2 U.S. homebuilder and has also performed better than D.R. Horton so far, boosted by a larger land bank in areas close to the city centers. But home prices are continuing to rise, while personal income is about stagnant. So, when Lennar reports third-quarter results, investors will focus on the company's selling prices and strategy on discounts in the coming few quarters. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews will join business leaders from Oracle, Intuit and GM for "The Software Century: Analyzing Economic Impact & Job Creation" - a special event hosted by the Software & Information Industry Association. The event will feature the unveiling of a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind report on the software industry's economic impact, as well as in-depth discussion of the report, and insight on the software industry's role in job creation and the continued growth of U.S. businesses. Other speakers include, Robert J. Shapiro, who was undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs under President Bill Clinton and the co-founder and chairman of Sonecon; Vice President of Government Affairs at Oracle, Jason Mahler; Intuit's Chief Public Policy Officer and Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs Bernie McKay; and Henry Lightsey, executive director of global connected consumer-global government relations at General Motors. A U.S. judge will begin a two-day hearing over whether to grant final approval to a class action settlement with American Express Co that would allow merchants charge extra for transactions paid with the company's credit and charge cards. In court papers, lawyers for the merchants have said the settlement represents "some of the most consequential relief ever obtained in a private enforcement action under the U.S. antitrust laws." But it has met opposition from merchants including CVS Health, Walgreen Co, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and the National Retail Federation. The U.S. government has also filed an objection amid its own lawsuit against AmEx. The hearing is before U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn. (All analysts' estimates are according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/) (Compiled By Nandi Kaul in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)