(AAPL) Focus Moves Toward the Federal Reserve

The focus today will be on the Fed, as the Central Bank unveils a new measure as part of its ongoing efforts to improve communication with the markets. The prospect of an even longer timeframe for lower interest rates, as many in the markets are hoping to come out of today’s Fed releases, has the potential to pull stocks out of the slumber of the last two trading sessions.

A mixed earnings season thus far and the reemergence of Greece worries have prompted stocks to take a pause lately. It will be interesting to see if Apple’s (AAPL) blockbuster results after the close yesterday will have any resonance beyond its own stock price.

In this morning’s key earnings releases, Boeing (BA) came out ahead of expectations on both the bottom- and top-lines, but the company’s full-year 2012 earnings guidance came in below current expectations. Automatic Data Processing (ADP), the payroll processor, handily beat EPS expectations on in-line revenue. United Technologies (UTX) beat on EPS, but missed revenue expectations. Dover (DOV) and Abbott Labs (ABT) beat on earnings, but modestly missed revenue expectations.
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At the conclusion of its first meeting of 2012, the Fed will be releasing the Fed Funds rate forecasts by the individual Fed districts through 2015. This will be in addition to the customary FOMC statement after the meeting and the quarterly Bernanke news conference. We will also get when the individual Fed districts see the FOMC starting to raise interest rates again.
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This is a significant development as it likely will show that the Central Bank districts expect near-zero interests for longer than the current FOMC policy of through mid-2013 only. It will be interesting to see how Treasury yields will respond to this expected disclosure. Will this result in greater flattening of the yield curve, particularly given growing expectations of another round of quantitative easing despite the recent favorable run of economic reports?

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