Keep your eye on the following as the day moves forward:
The Fed & Bond Buying:
The Fed is expected to announce a revamped bond-buying plan at the conclusion of their second day of discussions on Wednesday. The Fed's policy statement will be followed by the release of a revised economic outlook and a news conference with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The expectation is that the Fed will unveil a program Wednesday to buy $45 billion a month in long-term Treasurys. That would replace an expiring program called Operation Twist. With Twist, the Fed sold $45 billion a month in short-term Treasurys and used the proceeds to buy the same amount in longer-term Treasurys.
The new bond-purchase plan would join a program announced in September (“QE eternity”). Under that program, the Fed is buying $40 billion a month in mortgage bonds to try to force already record-low home-loan rates lower in a bid to encourage home buying. The total Fed bond purchases from the two programs would remain $85 billion.
Fiscal Cliff Negotiations:
Little progress is being reported in talks on averting automatic spending cuts and tax increases that economists fear could send the U.S. economy off a "fiscal cliff."
House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama spoke on the phone Tuesday, a day after the president offered to reduce his initial demand for $1.6 trillion in higher tax revenue over a decade to $1.4 trillion. But Obama continued to insist that much of the revenue come from raising top tax rates on the wealthy.
Boehner countered later Tuesday with another offer that aides to the Ohio Republican said stuck close to a document delivered to the White House a week ago.
As of this writing, neither side is budging. Expect this to weight further on markets.
OPEC oil ministers have agreed to maintain their present oil output ceiling, signaling satisfaction with prices. But they have again failed to elect a new secretary general because of rivalries between Saudi Arabia and arch-rival Iran.
An OPEC statement said the ministers agreed to aim at producing 30 million barrels a day. In fact, the 12-nation organization is overproducing by more than 1 million barrels daily.
The statement also said the ministers agreed Wednesday to extend Abdullah Al-Badry's term as OPEC's secretary general for another year.
Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq had vied for the post, the public face of OPEC between ministerial meetings. But the rivalries between the Saudis and Iran canceled each other out, while Iraq was viewed by some ministers as pursuing its own agenda instead of OPEC's.
Honda is recalling more than 870,000 minivans and SUVs worldwide because they can roll away even though drivers have removed the keys from the ignition.
The recall announced Wednesday affects older-model vehicles sold mainly in the United States. They were big sellers with families because of their ample space and reputation for quality. Problems with the ignition switches have plagued Honda for years. It has recalled nearly 2.3 million vehicles for the problem since 2003.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.