The stock markets in the United States rallied today as investors evaluate data and corporate earnings prior to the policy announcement of the Federal Reserve tomorrow.

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The Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) started its policy meeting today after the financial markets experienced six weeks of volatility. A majority of the economist polled by Bloomberg expected policy makers to focus the robust U.S. economic outlook and ending the bond-buying program as planned.

Economists also expected policy makers to maintain low interests rates for a considerable time.

“Expectations are for the U.S. to be on a reasonably good growth path and right now the U.S. globally is the bright spot. Employment is improving, jobs are improving in the private sector, and there’s a Fed that, despite tapering, is still at very low rates,” said Geoffrey Pazzanese, a fund manager at Federated Investors in a telephone interview with Bloomberg.

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On the other hand, Neil Grossman, chief investment officer at Tkng Capital partners commented, “The Fed meeting takes priority for the moment. They’re on track to normalize rates to help reduce their balance sheet, but the question is if there is enough angst to push that date back, or if they’ll re-initiate another form of a purchase program.”

Data compiled by Bloomberg showed that 80% of companies in the S&P 500 that already released financial results beat earnings estimates while 61% exceeded revenue expectations.

Christian Gattiker, head of research at Julius Baer Group Ltd observed that corporations are “alive and kicking.” According to him, “This is good news especially after the breakdown of confidence we had earlier this month. The question is whether the market has to rely on central bank policy alone to drive asset prices higher.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17,005.75 (+1.12%)
  • S&P 500- 1,985.05 (+1.19%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,564.29 (+1.75%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,148.37 (+2.76%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,036.15. (+1.24%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,402.17 (+0.61%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,068.19 (+1.86%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,329.91 (-0.38%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,520.36 (+1.63%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,416.65 (+2.02%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) climbed 6% to $157.19 per share after the company disclosed its plans to increase its shareholders dividend by 30% in the first quarter and to buyback approximately $2 billion worth of shares by the end of  2015. Amgen also expected to generate earnings in the range of $9.05 to $9.40 per share and revenue of around $20.8 billion to $21.3 billion next year.

The Madison Square Garden Co (NASDAQ:MSG) surged nearly 11% to $72.99 per share due to the report that it was exploring a breakup of its live entertainment business and sports & media business.

The shares of Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) plummeted almost 10% to $43.78 per share after microblogging company reported that its net loss increased to $175.5 million from $64.6 million.  Investors questioned Twitter’s ability to innovate since its user growth stalled during the third quarter.

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