U.S. equities are comfortably firmer
U.S. equities are comfortably firmer amid hopes for an oxymoronic "dovish hike" from the Fed later, in which it pares a declaration of independence hike with more balanced/dovish language on the economic outlook and rate trajectory. Whether such a qualified "Powell Put" inspires investors longer term remains to be seen, though a stopgap spending bill by the end of the week and more positive trade progress would be helpful. The Dow is 143-points higher, S&P gained 15-points and NASDAQ is up 32-points in pre-market action. Europe is smartly higher as well, with the Euro Stoxx 50 +0.6%, the UK FTSE +1% and the German DAX +0.6% after progress on a EU-Italo budget deal. This followed another slumpy session in Asia after a 0.6% drop in Japan's Nikkei 225 and 1.2% skid in the China CSI 300. Fedex was hammered 6% lower after lower guidance based upon slowing European and China sales, while Micron also sank 7% after a miss, weighing on the chip sector. Pfizer gained after striking a deal with Glaxo to combine their consumer health businesses. On tap next is existing home sales, forecast to rebound modestly for November.