The Fed Meets and China’s Li Talks–5 Things to Know Today

March 16, 2016, 11:41 AM UTC
Senate Banking Committee Hearing with Janet Yellen
Photograph by Samuel Corum—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are mixed this morning in the absence of any major shocks overnight. Crude oil prices are higher as buyers return after the recent bout of profit-taking, while the dollar is generally flat.

Today’s must-read story is by Fortune’s Stephen Gandel looking at activist investor Bill Ackman’s dwindling options as Valeant Pharmaceutical’s (VRX) stock meltdown continues.

1. The Fed releases its policy statement.

The Federal Open Markets Committee will release its policy statement this afternoon after it concludes its two-day meeting. The document will include updated quarterly forecasts for the U.S. economy as well as select details on how the group plans to approach interest rate hikes over the coming months. Most economists expect that the benchmark federal funds rate will hold steady at 0.25% to 0.5%, according to Bloomberg data.

2. Big Coal woes

Peabody Energy, the U.S.’s largest coal miner, said it may seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after missing an interest payment on its debts. That follows a similar announcement by Foresight Energy LP on Tuesday. Falling prices, stricter environmental controls and increasing competition from natural gas are all combining to make like tough for the industry.

3. China’s Premier talks.

China’s Premier Li Keqiang said China won’t have problems meeting its GDP growth targets, despite mounting international skepticism. “As long we stay on the course of reform and opening up, China’s economy will not suffer a hard landing,” Li said at a press conference that ended two weeks of government meetings for China’s rubber-stamp parliament. The authorities have set a target for annual gross domestic product growth of between 6.5% and 7%. Many independent analysts that the growth rate has already fallen well below that.

4. U.S. economic data.

First up, the Labor Department will release new inflation data for February. The consumer price index likely fell from a month earlier given low fuel costs. Total inflation over the last 12 months is expected to remain below the Fed’s goal target.

Also up this morning, the Commerce Department will report housing starts data for February, which are expected to be up for the month.

5. FedEx reports.

FedEx (FDX) reports its third-quarter earnings after the market close today. The international shipper is expected to show earning-per-share of $2.35 on $12.4 billion in sales, according to Thomson Reuters data. Investors will paying close attention to how the company performed over the all-important holiday season after it admitted that it struggled to deliver packages on time last year.

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