Stocks set for strong open

Tuesday's election results boost futures, but trading could turn quiet as investors await outcome of latest Fed meeting.

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By CNNMoney.com staff

An eyeblink glance at the economy
The economy has grown for five straight quarters, but there are signs that the recovery is still fragile.
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NEWYORK(CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were poised to open higher Wednesday, as Wall Street cheered a number of Republican election wins ahead of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting decision.

Less than an hour before the open, S&P 500, Nasdaq-100 and Dow Jones industrial average futures were higher.

Futures measure current index values against their perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins.

Wall Street ended a volatile day mixed on Tuesday as investors digested rising commodity prices and Warren Buffett's buyout of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI, Fortune 500).

But positive market momentum appeared as investors were encouraged by several Republicans victories, including the governor races in both New Jersey and Virginia.

More broadly, the wins reflect a sharp rebuke by Americans of current policies in Washington, including massive spending programs that have helped grow the federal deficit.

"The election results suggest that perhaps the referendum of the Democratic Party, more specifically President Obama, is being challenged in the marketplace," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

Fed: Still, much of Wednesday's focus was on the outcome of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting, set to conclude Wednesday afternoon.

Investors have been nervous about the economic recovery recently and have been anxiously awaiting some guidance from the central bank about how it plans to remove billions of dollars in stimulus funds it has poured into the economy in the wake of the financial crisis.

"Any threat of [liquidity] being taken away sooner than the nascent recovery can weather would be disconcerting for the market," said Luschini.

Investors will be looking for clues in the Fed statement, which is due to be released at 2:15 pm ET. The central bank is widely expected to hold the fed funds rate, a key overnight bank lending rate, at historic lows near 0%.

Jobs: In other economic news, outplacement firm Challenger reported that planned layoffs slowed in October to 55,679, 16% fewer than in September. It was the third consecutive monthly decline.

And payroll services firm ADP said Wednesady that private-sector jobs fell by 203,000 during the month. The number, while worse than expected, revealed that job losses continue to ease.

Companies: On the earnings front, Time Warner (TWX, Fortune 500), the parent company of CNNMoney.com, reported quarterly profit and revenue above estimates. The company also forecast $100 million of restructuring charges for the current quarter.

And cable operator Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500) reported a 22% increase in net income before Wednesday's opening bell, beating Wall Street estimates.

Autos: In other corporate news, Fiat is scheduled to reveal its new five-year turnaround plan for Chrysler on Wednesday. But it's unclear whether the changes will come in time to save the company.

And General Motors said late Tuesday it was scrapping the sale of its European unit Opel.

World markets: Asian stocks finished narrowly higher while major European indexes rose in midday trading.

Oil prices climbed above $80, gaining 76 cents to $80.36 a barrel.

And the dollar continued to remain under pressure Wednesday, falling against the euro and the British pound, while it was higher versus the yen. To top of page

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