NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were set to open higher Tuesday as the nation headed to the polls for the midterm election and the Federal Reserve geared up for a key two-day meeting.
"We're in a major wait-and-see mode," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co. "You are going to be hard pressed to find someone making a large bet in today's market."
Stocks ended little changed Monday after an early advance on upbeat manufacturing data gave way to jitters ahead of a number of key developments expected later this week.
With no major economic reports on the agenda Tuesday, investors will remain focused on the midterm Congressional elections and the Fed meeting.
Many on Wall Street expect Republicans to win the 39 seats needed to take control of the House. In the Senate, the GOP would need to win 10 of the 37 of seats up for grabs to get the majority.
A Republican majority could be perceived as pro-business and therefore give a boost to the market.
Meanwhile, the Fed kicks off its two-day meeting, with a highly anticipated policy statement due Wednesday afternoon. The central bank is expected to unveil a new round of asset purchases, as part of a wider quantitative easing plan.
Investors are also looking ahead to Friday's jobs report from the Labor Department. Economists expect the report to show that employers added 60,000 jobs last month.
Companies: BP (PB), recovering from the Gulf oil spill, reported a third-quarter profit of $1.8 billion that included a $7.7 billion pretax charge related to the disaster. While the income was down from $5 billion a year earlier, it was a turnaround from the $17 billion loss posted in the prior quarter due to spill-related charges.
BP's stock rose more than 1% in premarket trading.
Pfizer (PFE, Fortune 500) posted a third-quarter profit that fell from a year earlier, but beat analysts' expectations excluding one-time charges. The drug maker said sales of its blockbusters Lipitor and Celebrex fell. Shares of Pfizer edged lower in premarket trading.
World markets: European stocks rose. The CAC 40 in France and the DAX in Germany were up slightly, and Britain's FTSE 100 gained over 1%.
Asian markets ended little changed. Japan's benchmark Nikkei index and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong each gained less than 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite ended 0.3% lower.
The Australian dollar got a boost after Australia's central bank hiked its key interest rate a quarter percentage point.
Oil futures for December delivery rose $1.17 to $84.12 a barrel.
Gold for December delivery gained $7.90 to $1,358.50 an ounce.
Bonds: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.61% from 2.63% late Monday.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.92%||3.83%|
|15 yr fixed||2.99%||2.98%|
|30 yr refi||4.01%||3.92%|
|15 yr refi||3.08%||3.08%|
Today's featured rates:
Looks like the Magic Kingdom is lacking some sparkle. Disney's cable channels have lost millions of subscribers in recent years. More
Brazilian police arrested a prominent senator and billionaire CEO for interfering in the investigation of Petrobras, which has pushed Brazil into recession. More
Watsi crowdfunds donations to cover healthcare costs of those in need. And it's seeing a surprising trend: micro-donations via the popular Chinese social networking app, WeChat. More
Some of the coolest toys this year are from small businesses. Here are 10 hot toys that just might be a smash hit this holiday season. More
Facebook just increased the amount of paid time off new dads working at its international offices can take. More