NeW York • U.S. stock futures rose slightly Wednesday, as investors awaited the results of the Federal Reserve’s first meeting under its new chair, Janet Yellen.
KEEPING SCORE: Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 12 points to 16,274 about 20 minutes ahead of the market open. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures were up 1.75 points to 1,865.50 and Nasdaq futures were up five points to 3,700.
YELLEN’S DEBUT: Investors will be watching closely for any hints of how Yellen’s Fed will differ from the path set by her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. The Yellen era will begin in earnest Wednesday when the Fed ends two days of policy discussions. It will be her first meeting as Fed chair, a position she assumed Feb. 3.
After the Fed issues a statement at the end of its meeting and updates its economic forecasts, Yellen will preside over a news conference. She is widely expected to embrace Bernanke’s approach of keeping interest rates low while gradually scaling back the Fed’s stimulus.
TRADE REPORT: Large increases in exports of petroleum and agricultural products helped shrink the U.S. current account deficit to the lowest level in 14 years in the October-December quarter, according to a government report out Wednesday. The trade deficit narrowed to $81.1 billion in the fourth quarter, down from $96.4 billion in the July-September quarter. That’s the smallest gap since the third quarter of 1999.
EUROPEAN MARKETS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.8 percent and France’s CAC-40 was up 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was trading around the breakeven mark.
ASIA: In Japan, the Nikkei rose 0.4 percent. In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent.
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