Stocks: 5 things to know before the open

June 18, 2014: 7:30 AM ET
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LONDON (CNNMoney)

Investors will be focused on the Federal Reserve Wednesday, but that's not the only thing to watch in the markets.

Here are the five things you need to know before the opening bell rings:

1. Fed taper and dot plot: Investors are watching interest rates closely these days and markets will get more hints about where they're heading. The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee wraps up its two-day policy setting meeting Wednesday, and is expected to reduce its asset-purchase program further.

"Despite the downward revisions to growth seen for the first quarter, the Fed is unlikely to waver from its course of tapering by $10 billion per meeting," said Simon Smith, head of research at FxPro.

Fed chair Janet Yellen will speak at a press conference afterward. The markets will closely be monitoring the "dot plot," the Fed's version of a straw poll of officials, as investors try to deduce whether interest rates will be going up sooner than expected.

Most investors expect a rise in 2015. An increase before that could rattle markets or even stunt growth. Waiting too long to raise rates could cause bubbles.

U.S. stock futures were muddling along before the Fed event, managing just the slightest of gains.

Tom Elliot, international strategist at the deVere Group financial consultancy, said markets were remarkably "placid" in the face of violent upheaval in Iraq.

He said that investors "no longer have to jump up and down with worry and fear every time an oil field in the Middle East changes hands" because the U.S. is less dependent on foreign oil thanks to the energy boom.

Related: Fear & Greed Index still extremely greedy

2. Market movers -- Adobe, H&M: Adobe (ADBE) is taking center stage ahead of the open, with shares rising by 7% in premarket trading. The company, which is behind the popular Photoshop software, reported better-than-expected quarterly results Tuesday evening.

Shares in the massive retailer Hennes & Mauritz (aka H&M) were rising by about 1% in European trading after the company posted its latest financial results.

3. Stocks to watch -- Amazon, GM, FedEx: Shares in Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) could be active when CEO Jeff Bezos unveils a still-unknown product that is widely suspected to be a high-end smartphone. The announcement will be made near Amazon's Seattle headquarters.

General Motors (GM) shares could be on the move as GM CEO Mary Barra returns to Capitol Hill, vowing again to take any steps necessary to avoid a repeat of the automaker's recall crisis. Anton Valukas, the former federal prosecutor who conducted a recent GM probe, will also be testifying.

FedEx (FDX) will report quarterly earnings before the opening bell.

Related: CNNMoney's Tech30

4. International markets: European stock markets were moving up in morning trading, though the gains were small.

Russia's main index rose by about 0.8% after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussed the possibility of a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. The ruble made similar gains versus the U.S. dollar.

Asian markets ended with mixed results. The Nikkei in Japan rose by nearly 1%, but markets in India and China were in negative territory.

Investors will continue to watch Argentinian markets, since many fear the country could be close to defaulting on its debt.

5. Tuesday stock market recap: U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday, led by the tech-heavy Nasdaq which was up almost 0.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 also made gains. This was the third consecutive day of gains for the Dow.

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Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,960.57 -123.23 -0.72%
Nasdaq 4,449.56 -22.54 -0.50%
S&P 500 1,978.34 -9.64 -0.48%
Treasuries 2.47 -0.04 -1.59%
Data as of 3:24am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Facebook Inc 75.19 0.21 0.28%
Apple Inc 97.67 0.64 0.66%
Bank of America Corp... 15.59 -0.03 -0.19%
Ford Motor Co 17.62 -0.22 -1.23%
Applied Materials In... 21.23 -0.52 -2.41%
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