September 21, 2016 / 11:27 AM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures rise after BOJ policy overhaul; Fed in focus

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Sept 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Wednesday as investors shifted their focus to the Federal Reserve after the Bank of Japan announced a massive overhaul of its monetary policy.

* Also supporting futures was a 2 percent rally in oil prices spurred by a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories and a strike by oil workers in Norway which could affect output.

* The BOJ abandoned its base money target and instead adopted a “yield curve control” under which it will buy long-term government bonds to keep 10-year bond yields at current levels around zero percent.

* The Fed is scheduled to release a statement at 2:00 p.m. ET, followed by Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference. While the chances of a hike this time are marginal, investors will comb the central bank’s statements for clues of a hike in the coming months.

* The dollar index touched a near 2-week high on Wednesday, the yen fell 0.29 percent against the dollar and the price of gold rose to a more than 3-week high.

* The Fed raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade last December but weak economic data and global uncertainty have prevented the central bank from raising the rates further.

* The Fed is widely expected to hold on to current rates even in its November meeting as it falls close to the U.S. Presidential elections. The overall consensus is for a rate hike in December.

* Traders have priced in a poor 15 percent chance of a rate hike on Wednesday, while the odds rise to about 59 percent for December, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

* Wall Street closed flat on Tuesday after a drop in energy stocks offset a boost from healthcare companies.

* Microsoft’s shares rose 1.21 percent to $57.50 in premarket trading after the software maker raised its quarterly dividend and said it would buy back up to $40 billion.

* Adobe Systems rose 4.7 percent to $105.35 after the company reported quarterly revenue that beat market expectations.

* Skechers was down 3.6 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the shoemaker’s stock to “equal weight” from “overweight”.

Futures snapshot at 7:04 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 78 points, or 0.43 percent, with 28,705 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 9.25 points, or 0.43 percent, with 148,492 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 26.25 points, or 0.55 percent, on volume of 23,598 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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