5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday


U.S. stock futures were pointing to a modestly higher open on Wall Street. It is jam-packed Wednesday with the expected third interest rate cut this year from the Federal Reserve, new data on jobs and economic growth, and key earnings late in day from Apple and Facebook. The central bank’s policy statement is out at 2 p.m. ET, with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference a half hour later. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 did set another intraday record high before closing slightly lower from the prior day’s record closing high.

The Fed’s rate decision and Powell news conference come hours after data on the government’s first look at third-quarter economic growth. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that gross domestic product advanced at a faster-than-expected rate of 1.9%, but slowed slightly from the second quarter. Ahead of the Friday release of the government’s latest jobs report, ADP said private payrolls increased by a better-than-expected 125,000 positions in October.

Shares of General Electric surged more than 8% in premarket trading Wednesday after the industrial conglomerate raised its 2019 cash flow forecast and reported adjusted third-quarter earnings and revenue that topped analyst expectations. On a nonadjusted basis, and including certain accounting charges, GE still lost $9.5 billion in the quarter. The company continues to warn that its aviation unit may see a cash flow hit from the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max. GE makes the LEAP engines used on Boeing’s top-selling airplane.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg is back on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, appearing before a House panel on the 737 Max plane and whether aviation safety needs greater oversight. Muilenburg took a remorseful tone on the Senate side Tuesday, recognizing mistakes with the grounded plane implicated in two deadly crashes. It was Boeing’s most public admission that it botched the design of its highest-selling plane. Muilenburg repeatedly said that Boeing followed existing regulatory processes and that he was open to changes to those rules.

WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said the HBO Max streaming service will launch in the U.S. in May at a cost $14.99 a month. HBO Max is one of the newest additions to an extremely crowded streaming market that will soon include Disney+ and Comcast’s Peacock. They’re all taking aim at Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Apple, which have a variety of subscription and ad-based offerings. AT&T’s WarnerMedia said it will spend $4 billion over the next three years building HBO Max.