Local stocks are poised to open slightly lower as the Fed confirmed the taper is alive and well.

US Fed policymakers now expect rates to reach 2.25 per cent by the end of 2016. 

What you need2know:

• SPI futures down 18 points to 5340 at 5.59am AEDT

• AUD at 90.46 US cents, 92.83 Japanese yen, 65.43 Euro cents and 54.73 British pence at 5.59am AEDT

• On Wall St (in late trade), S&P500 -0.3%, Dow Jones -1%, Nasdaq -0.3% 

• In Europe, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.1%, FTSE100 -0.5%, CAC -0.1%, DAX +0.4%

• Spot gold falls 1.7% to $US1332.72 an ounce

• Brent oil falls 0.9% to $US105.94 per barrel

• Iron ore is at $US110.50 per metric tonne

What’s on today

Sydney - Commonwealth Bank business sales indicator for February

Sydney - RBA quarterly bulletin is released

Melbourne - Myer first half results

Stocks to watch

Stockland has confirmed it is the buyer of a strategic stake in Australand Property Group and said it now owns 19.9 per cent of Australand’s shares on issue.

Finally some good news for Lend Lease, on which Deutsche Bank has a “buy” recommendation and a 12-month price target of $13 a share.

Morningstar has raised DuluxGroup to “reduce” from “sell” after reviewing the company’s competitive position and upgrading its moat to “narrow” from “none” on the basis of its intangible assets and efficient scale in paint, which accounts for 65 per cent of group earnings.

Currencies

The euro and the yen are extending losses against the US dollar in the wake of the Fed statement. The central bank is continuing with reining in its unprecedented stimulus for the US economy.

The Fed will trim monthly bond purchased by another $US10 billion. It also said future decisions on interest rates will be determined by a range of economic indicators.

In addition, the Fed’s latest forecasts show that policymakers now expect rates to rise at a faster pace than they previously thought, reaching 1 per cent at the end of 2015 and 2.25 per cent by the end of 2016.

Commodities

JPMorgan is selling its physical commodities business to Mercuria for $US3.5 billion. The all-cash transaction for one of the most powerful oil and metals desks on Wall Street is expected to close in the third quarter.

Jinchuan Group, China's third-largest copper producer, has declared force majeure on some copper concentrate purchases after a technical problem reduced the use of the raw material.

United States 

The S&P 500 was within 1 per cent of its intraday record high, though economic bellwether FedEx hit a sour note in its outlook. Geopolitical concerns related to Ukraine also stayed in focus.

Equities have rallied this week, buoyed by easing geopolitical concerns, though trading volume has been light. 

Activist investor Carl Icahn has called on eBay to sell 20 per cent of its PayPal payments unit in an initial public offering, in his latest missive to shareholders.

Europe

European shares held steady on Wednesday, although Italian stocks slipped in strong volumes as Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the European Union's budget deficit limit of 3 per cent of economic output was outdated.

Shares in UK insurers also dropped, hurt by government plans to scrap a requirement that pension savings be used to buy an annuity. Legal & General was down 8.4 per cent and Aviva down 5.1 per cent after UK finance minister George Osborne announced the plans as part of the UK budget.

What happened yesterday

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 11 points, or 0.2 per cent, on Wednesday to 5355.6, as banks and supermarkets lifted the bourse.

Mining was the worst-performing sector, down 0.2 per cent despite the spot price for iron ore, landed in China, adding 0.8 per cent to $US110.50 a tonne. Resources giant BHP Billiton fell 0.6 per cent to $35.86. Main rival Rio Tinto shed 0.8 per cent to $61.36.