Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street stock futures are treading water ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on whether or not to raise interest rates, expected later Thursday. The dollar is weaker against the euro on speculation that it will choose not to hike, while crude oil futures are comfortably above $46.50 a barrel after a surprisingly large drawdown in U.S. petroleum stocks.
Today’s must-read stories are from Fortune‘s Stephen Gandel and John Kell, who look at the potential pitfalls of a merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, including massive post-merger debt as well as antitrust rules that would likely lead to some major brand divestitures in the U.S.
Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
1. Fed’s moment of truth
The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day economic policy meeting today and Fed chair Janet Yellen will hold a press conference this afternoon, which means everyone will be watching closely to see if the central bank finally issues the first official interest rate hike in the U.S. since 2006. Earlier this summer, most economists agreed that the long-awaited rate hike would come in September, but several turbulent weeks for global markets have cast doubt on the timing of the Fed’s decision.
2. Massive earthquake rocks Chile
A huge earthquake off the coast of Chile has killed five people and caused a million to evacuate their homes as the country issued tsunami warnings. The country is the world’s largest producer of copper, and prices for the metal have risen after two of the biggest producers in the country suspended operations.
3. Housing and unemployment data
Most of today’s market movement will likely be reserved for reactions to the Fed’s interest rate decision, whatever that may be, but there will also be some economic reports to watch. The Labor Department will reveal the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week after the number held steady at 275,000 claims the previous week. Also, the Commerce Department is expected to report that housing starts fell to 1.17 million units in August, down from an eight-year high of 1.21 million units the previous month. Meanwhile, building permits likely increased to 1.16 million units in the month from 1.13 million in July.
4. Adobe Systems earnings
The Photoshop-maker reports third-quarter financial results today and Adobe (ADBE) is expected to show profit that slightly outpaces Wall Street’s forecasts. Investors will be interested to see if Adobe was able to build on subscriber growth with its Creative Suite 6 as the company moves toward web-based subscriptions for its software.
5. Rite Aid earnings
Drugstore chain Rite Aid (RAD) is expected to report second-quarter profit that top analysts’ estimates when the company reports quarterly earnings today. Rite Aid lowered its full-year profit forecast earlier this summer in the wake of disappointing first-quarter results.
— Reuters contributed to this report.