Wednesday preview: All eyes on US GDP and FOMC decision

Wednesday looks set to be a busy day on both the corporate and economic calendar. However, while there's a long list of UK blue-chip companies scheduled to report earnings, the focus will undoubtedly be on the US with economic growth data and a policy rate decision expected in the afternoon.

Wednesday looks set to be a busy day on both the corporate and economic calendar. However, while there's a long list of UK blue-chip companies scheduled to report earnings, the focus will undoubtedly be on the US with economic growth data and a policy rate decision expected in the afternoon.

The world's biggest economy is expected to have grown at an annualised rate of 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to preliminary estimates due for release at 13:30 (London time), well below the 3.1% growth in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will reveal its policy decision at 19:15 after a two-day meeting in Washington. While markets will keep a close eye on the announcement, analysts have labelled this as the most anticipated "non-event" of the week.

"We think this Fed meeting is a complete non-event," said the experts at Jefferies. While the economy continues to slug along, the improvements seen in recent data are said to be insufficient to force the Fed to move its hand.

As such, the central bank is expected to continue with its stimulus measures but everyone will be looking out for comments on when the current third round of quantitative easing (QE) will end. Most expect the Fed to continue through with QE3 until the end of the year, if not early 2014.

In other economic news on Wednesday, there will be the latest US ADP employment figures, US personal consumption data, as well as Eurozone consumer confidence and UK mortgage approval numbers.

Blue chip stocks to report in LondonAs for the corporate side of things, mining peers Antofagasta and Polymetal are to release their fourth-quarter production reports.

Imperial Tobacco is to update the market on trading in the first quarter with the group expected to report a 3-4% increase in organic sales, according to estimates from Credit Suisse.

In a research report earlier this month, the Swiss broker said that Imperial's tobacco portfolio "looks well-placed in the EU and its strategic brands are making good inroads in non-EU markets".

Meanwhile, water group United Utilities will publish a third-quarter trading statement, in which Seymour Pierce said it expects no real surprises.

The broker said that it anticipates that the company will reiterate comments made at the time of the interim results (November 28th 2012) but will give guidance on net finance expense (SP estimate: £355m, £12m lower year-on-year) and year-end net debt (SP estimate: £5.35bn, up from £5.32bn at the end of the half).

FINALS

Safestore Holdings

INTERIMS

Renishaw

IMSs

United Utilities Group

AGMS

Finsbury Growth & Income Trust

Imperial Tobacco Group

Karelian Diamond Resources

Polo Resources Ltd. (DI)

Renew Holdings

Ultrasis

EGMs

Avengardco Investments Public Ltd GDR

Qannas Investments Ltd

FINAL EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Andor Technology

Blackrock Frontiers Investment Trust

Fenner

Renew Holdings

Treatt

FINAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE

Albemarle & Bond Holdings

Qatar Investment Fund

Schroder Asia Pacific Fund

Schroder UK Mid Cap Fund

INTERIM EX-DIVIDEND DATE

CPL Resources

Latchways

NB Private Equity Partners Ltd.

Pennon Group

INTERIM DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE

Monks Inv Trust

NewRiver Retail Ltd. (Reg S)

SPECIAL EX-DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE

Carpathian

QUARTERLY EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Merchants Trust

UK ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

Consumer Credit (09:30)

M4 Money Supply (09:30)

M4 Sterling Lending (09:30)

Mortgage Approvals (09:30)

Trends in Lending (09:30)

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

PMI Retail (GER) (08:55)

PMI Retail (EU) (09:00)

Business Climate Indicator (EU) (10:00)

Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU) (10:00)

MBA Mortgage Applications (US) (12:00)

GDP (Advance) (US) (13:30)

Crude Oil Inventories (US) (15:30)

FOMC Interest Rate (US) (17:15)

BC

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