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Morning Market Roundup: Markets Waiting on Fed Action, Earnings Reports Are in

Business

Here’s what important in the business world this morning:

Fed Action: The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting Wednesday with a big question looming: Will it take some new action to jolt the U.S. economy out of its slump?

Investors are hoping the Fed will announce another round of bond purchases, known as quantitative easing. The goal is to lower long-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending.

But economists say the Fed is likely to hold off until September to wait and see if job growth and consumer spending to pick up.

U.S. growth slowed to an annual rate of just 1.5 percent from April through June, down from the 2 percent pace in the first quarter. And consumers spent no more in June than they did in May, even though their income grew by 0.5 percent.

Fed officials have signaled their concern about weakening job growth and consumer spending, which have brought the economy closer to a standstill. And Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the Fed is prepared to take further action if unemployment stays high.

Earnings: Time Warner said Wednesday that its net income fell 33 percent in the second quarter as its Warner Bros. movie studio had weaker releases compared with a year ago.

MasterCard reported a 15 percent increase in quarterly income after recording a $13 million expense related to a settlement with merchants over credit card fees.

Avon Products' second-quarter net income fell 70 percent, hurt by the stronger dollar and lower demand globally for its makeup and skin care products.

The home of the Whopper is on a mission: bring more food options to customers and expand overseas. Burger King's plan appears to be working so far, with the casual dining chain's net income surging 60 percent in the second quarter.

Comcast on Wednesday reported net income of $1.35 billion, or 50 cents per share, for the April-to-June period. That was up 32 percent from $1.02 billion, or 37 cents per share, a year ago.

Chrysler's U.S. sales rose 13 percent in July on demand for Ram pickups. The company, which was the first to report sales on Wednesday, said it sold more than 126,000 cars and trucks -- its best July in five years.

U.S. Futures: Stock futures moved higher Wednesday on new data that suggests the U.S. may be emerging from a three-month funk in the jobs market, as well as some strong quarterly reports from major corporations.

New numbers from manufacturing and construction sectors, to be released after the stock market opens, are also expected to show an improving economic environment, or at least one that isn't getting worse.

Dow Jones industrial futures are up 42 points to 12,991 and the broader S&P futures added 3.7 points to 1,378.30. Nasdaq futures rose 12.5 points to 2,649

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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