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March 17, 2015

Stocks: Fed's interest deliberations begin

Investors are looking nervous Tuesday as the Fed countdown begins.

Mild losses across Europe are adding to the downbeat mood.

Here are the 5 things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. Fed watching: The Federal Reserve kicks off a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and all attention is on the timing of an interest rate rise. Low rates in the U.S. have been a driving force behind the near-200% rise in stocks since March 2009, but that's about to come to an end. The question is when.

The key word is "patient." Analysts are speculating if that word is dropped from the Fed's statement, a rate hike could be on the cards as early as June.

2. Oil dips: Crude is on track for its sixth consecutive day of losses, shedding 1% to hover just above $43 a barrel. And oil could move even lower, as a supply glut and the continued strength of the U.S. dollar puts pressure on prices.

3. Earnings and economics: Burlington Stores and footwear retailer DSW are due to report ahead of the open. Computer tech maker Oracle will report after the close.

On the economic front, the U.S. government will post February housing starts and building permits at 8:30 a.m. ET.

4. Global markets: European markets were moving lower in early trading, with Germany's DAX snapping its recent record breaking run.

Things looked brighter in Asia, as hopes of more policy support to boost China's slowing economy buoyed stocks. The Shanghai Composite rallied 1.6%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 1%.

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a softer start to trading Tuesday.

5. U.S. market recap: The Dow Jones industrial average gained 228 points, while the S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Nasdaq closed 1.2% higher.

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