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Pre-Market: Investors Await FOMC Announcement; Toyota Expected to Pay $1 Billion Settlement


Gold fell to a one-week low in London.

Stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wednesday.

Before the opening bell, Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.10% at 16,278. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.12% to 1,866.00. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures moved higher, climbing 0.16% to 3,701.00.

The markets await today's FOMC announcement at 2 p.m., followed by newly appointed Federal Reserve chairperson Janet Yellen's first public address at 2:30 p.m. The Fed is expected to keep pace with decreasing its bond-buying program by $10 billion per month; changes to its forward guidance will be closely watched. Meanwhile, the US current account deficit for the fourth quarter 2013, which measures the country's international trade balance, was released this morning. The US current account deficit decreased to $81.1 billion in the October-December 2013 period, down from $96.4 billion in the previous quarter.

The Fed's upcoming monetary policy announcement sent gold to a one-week low in London, while the US dollar strengthened against most major currencies. Asian stocks fell overnight following yesterday's gains -- for some exchanges the strongest gains in two weeks -- and the yuan dropped back below $6.20 against the dollar, which is considered a critical level. European markets followed suit, beginning their sessions lower, as investors remained focused on Russia.

After Russia claimed its stake in Crimea a day earlier, armed pro-Russian supporters took control of the Ukrainian navy's headquarters on Wednesday. While traveling in Asia, Igor Sechin, the president of Russia's state owned oil and gas company Rosneft (LON:ROSN) warned the West that imposing sanctions on Russia will only worsen the situation.

Japan reported a notably lower trade deficit on Wednesday, offering hope for a shifting trade balance as the country has now reported trade deficits for 20 straight months. February's deficit came in at $7.9 billion, buoyed by higher exports to China following the Lunar New Year holiday.

Across the Pacific, Japan's Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE TM) will likely pay out $1 billion to the US government to settle a criminal investigation into the sudden acceleration of its vehicle. Technical malfunctions forced Toyota to recall millions of its cars in 2009 and 2010, which led to billions in losses for the automaker. Although the deal is not final, a decision is expected to be issued as early as Wednesday.

In China, the country's biggest publicly traded tech company Tencent Holdings (OTCMKTS:TCTZF) posted disappointing earnings. Net income rose by 12.9% in the fourth quarter, its slowest growth in nearly two years.

Airbus (OTCMKTS:EADSY) has received good news from China, which will likely order 100 commercial aircraft from the France-based airplane maker.

In other stock-related news, JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) will sell its commodities trading business, valued at $3.3 billion, to Mercuria Energy Group, a Swiss energy-trading company. The deal is expected to be completed this summer.

Finally, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was delivered a major win in court when a US district judge ruled a class action lawsuit claiming the company illegally scanned private email messages could not proceed. 

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
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