Futures edge higher, Fed decision, U.S.-China tariffs, UK election, and more

Federal Open Market Committee

Stocks tipped to open higher as Fed leaves interest rates unchanged

U.S. stock index futures advanced on Thursday morning, after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) kept its benchmark interest rates steady at 1.50-1.75% during its final meeting of 2019.

The central bank also signaled it expected to leave the rates unchanged in 2020 as well, with historically low unemployment and moderate economic growth set to continue through the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

At 4:25 a.m. ET, the blue-chip Dow futures were up 34.5 points, or 0.12% to 27,958.5. The S&P 500 futures rose 5.12 points, or 0.16% to 3,148.12 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 17.38 points, or 0.21% to 8,422.88.

Trump expected to meet with trade advisers to debate December 15 tariffs

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that President Donald Trump is set to meet with senior trade advisers on Thursday to talks about the looming Dec. 15 tariffs on some $160 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Sources familiar with the plans told the publication that Trump will decide on whether to go ahead with the tariffs or postpone them.

“I’m expecting them to raise the tariffs on Sunday. The administration is preparing its talking points about how that’s the right thing to do. The message is that it will not be painful,” Reuters quoted one source as saying.

The tariffs are expected to target a wide range of consumer goods, including smart phones, video game consoles, laptops, fireworks, footwear, etc. Analysts believe that the fate of the tariffs is the biggest issue of concern for the moment.

UK heads to the polls amid Brexit impasse

Elsewhere, the United Kingdom went to the polls on Thursday in a general election that will clear the way for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “get Brexit done” or steer the country towards another referendum that could eventually undo the decision to quit the European Union.

Johnson succeeded Theresa May earlier this year after she was unable to get UK lawmakers to support her EU divorce agreement. He is hoping to clinch both a majority and a mandate.

There are 650 seats in the House of Commons up for grabs, which means Johnson’s Conservative Party needs 326 seats to secure an outright majority.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised that his party would legislate to hold a second referendum on Brexit if it carries the day.

If no party wins a clear majority, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit could emerge again.