MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wall Street looks to the Fed

Stock futures gain ground as investors bet Bernanke & Co. will boldly slash rates; Lehman, Goldman earnings in focus.


Do you think the federal government has taken the necessary steps to turn the economy around?
LONDON (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday, lifted by expectations that the Federal Reserve will aggressively cut rates at its regularly scheduled meeting today and ahead of earnings from Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers.

About three hours before the start of trading, Nasdaq and S&P futures were higher, suggesting a positive open for stocks.

Financials will be in focus as Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Lehman Brothers (LEH, Fortune 500) report earnings before the market open.

Lehman shares plunged 19% Monday on speculation that the investment bank will follow in the footsteps of Bear Stearns and collapse amid the credit turmoil.

Bear Stearns (BSC, Fortune 500) reached a deal Sunday to be sold to JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) for a fire-sale price of $2 a share, or $230 million. The deal sent financial shares sharply lower Monday, although JPMorgan managed to finish the session with gains.

The most anticipated event of the day comes at 2:15 p.m. ET, when the Fed issues its policy statement. The Fed is expected to cut the target for the fed funds rate, a key overnight consumer lending rate, by as much as a full percentage point when it meets.

In global trade, overseas stocks rebounded from the past session's sharp fall. Asian stocks finished mostly higher, and European shares rallied. To top of page

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