March 20, 2013 / 1:21 PM / 5 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street set for higher open with focus on Fed

* Fed seen sticking to stimulus as Cyprus rekindles global
    * Cyprus leaders make efforts to avert crisis after
rejecting EU bailout
    * FOMC to issue statement, Bernanke news conference on tap
    * Futures up: S&P 8 pts; Dow 54 pts; Nasdaq 64 pts

    By Angela Moon
    NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set for a
higher open on Wednesday with investors' focus on the Federal
Reserve's policy statement and news conference by Fed Chairman
Ben Bernanke later in the day.
    The Fed looks set to sustain its $85 billion monthly
bond-buying stimulus despite improving U.S. economic data as a
new flare-up in the euro zone crisis from Cyprus's troubles
reminds officials of a risky global environment. 
    The Fed will release the Federal Open Market Committee
statement and the Summary of Economic Projections at 2:00 p.m.
EDT (1800 GMT). Bernanke's news conference is due around 2:30
    "The market will try really hard to read between the lines,
especially after the last one, to see if there are any changes
in the Fed's stance," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of
Sarhan Capital in New York.
    "Fundamentals are improving but we are still not at the
critical level where the economy and the stock market can grow
organically. So the market reaction, if there are any changes,
could be big."
    Cypriot leaders held crisis talks on Wednesday to avert
financial meltdown after the country's parliament rejected the
terms of a European Union bailout, throwing efforts to rescue
the latest casualty of the euro zone debt crisis into disarray.
    FedEx Corp reported a 31 percent drop in quarterly
profit due to restructuring costs and weakness in its air
freight express business. The stock was off 3.8 percent in
premarket trade. 
    JPMorgan Chase & Co has reached a $546 million
settlement with the trustee liquidating the failed broker-dealer
unit of MF Global Holdings, a court filing showed
    A key U.S. bank regulator has called for improvement in the
management of JPMorgan Chase on concerns linked to the
multibillion-dollar "London Whale" trading loss last year, the
Wall Street Journal reported, citing knowledgeable sources.
    EU lawmakers are expected to agree on Wednesday to bar
bankers in Europe from getting bonuses bigger than their salary,
introducing the first cap of its kind globally. 
    S&P 500 futures added 8 points and were above fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 69
points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 19.75 points.
    The S&P 500 has ended lower for the past three sessions as
investors booked profits from a recent rally that took the Dow
to a 10-day winning streak last week and as concerns about
Cyprus and possible contagion to other parts of Europe curbed
risk appetite. The CBOE Volatility index VIX, Wall
Street's so-called fear gauge, is up 27 percent this week.
    But despite the fact that it spiked significantly over the
past two days, it still has a long way to go to even reach the
2013 high of 19.28, said Bryan Sapp, senior trading analyst at
Schaeffer's Investment Research.
    Roche Holding and a buyout group comprising KKR &
Co LP and Hellman & Friedman LLC have joined the bidding
for Life Technologies Corp, a genetic testing company
coveted for its advanced diagnostics and steady cash flow,
according to people familiar with the matter. 
    General Mills, the U.S. maker of Yoplait yogurt,
Cheerios cereal and Progresso soups, reported a higher quarterly
profit on Wednesday, helped by the recent acquisitions of Yoki
Alimentos in Brazil and Yoplait Canada. The stock was down 0.3
percent in premarket trade.
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