Global stocks moved higher on Tuesday morning as the U.S. Federal Reserve gets set to deliver its latest monetary policy statement in the afternoon -- and investors hope the Fed keeps alive the prospect of another round of economic stimulus.
U.S. index futures were higher with about two hours before markets open, suggesting that stocks will rise at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were up 58 points or 0.5 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were up 8 points or 0.6 per cent.
The gains follow moves in Europe, where finance ministers agreed on Greece's next round of bailout cash -- but, worryingly, also eased back Spain's deficit target for this year to 5.3 per cent from 4.4 per cent. Spain is widely seen as another potential phase in Europe's ongoing sovereign-debt crisis, given the country's big deficits and deteriorating economy.
Nonetheless, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.9 per cent and Germany's DAX index rose 1 per cent in afternoon trading. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 per cent in overnight trading.
Commodity prices were mixed. Crude oil rose to $106.81 (U.S.) a barrel, up 0.8 per cent. Gold fell to $1,695 an ounce, down 0.3 per cent.
The Fed is expected to deliver its monetary policy statement at 2:15 p.m. (ET). While no one expects the central bank to move its key interest rate, its statement could include subtle word changes to reflect an improving economic backdrop. In recent Congressional testimony, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke failed to give any indication that the Fed was considering another round of quantitative easing -- a method of holding down long-term bond yields -- which weighed on stocks and hammered the price of gold.
Meanwhile, there will be other economic news to digest, including advance U.S. retail sales for February.