Stocks set to stumble after surprise move by Bank of Japan

The Bank of Japan failed to follow the script and elected not to introduce new stimulus measures, sending global markets into a spin

Stocks are set to follow Japanese equities lower

Taking their lead from global market, especially Japan, US stocks are set to open sharply lower.

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) surprised the market and elected not to introduce further stimulus measures, catching investors on the hop and opening a trap door beneath Japanese equities.

The Nikkei 225 plunged 3.6%, and the effects were felt in European markets this morning.

“The BoJ's overnight decision undid a positive response to the US Fed’s doveish update yesterday evening, with the US central bank's tempering of concerns regarding external risks being offset by mixed US data to keep us guessing about the timing of the next US rate hike,” noted Michael van Dulken at Accendo Markets.

Spread betting quotes suggest investors might need their tin hats, or at least update their stop-loss instructions, with the S&P 500 looking at a 16 point fall to around 2,079 and the Dow Jones average poised to open at around 17,893, after closing last night up 51 points at 18,042.

A busy results today is scheduled, with junk food fans well-served by reports from Coca-Cola Enterprises, Domino's Pizza and Dunkin' Brands, all of which are set to update the market ahead of the bell.

Also on the runway are credit card firm Mastercard, courier services UPS and car maker Ford,

After the markets close today online giants hog the stage, with Amazon, Baidu.com, Groupon and LinkedIn all set to issue trading statements.

On the economic front, the results of the first stab at measuring gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter will be published at 8.30 eastern time.

“Attention now shifts to the GDP number for the US today, which is expected to offer little cheer for investors, while the FOMC statement last night was scrupulous in its neutrality, offering little help for other doves or hawks,” suggested Chris Beauchamp at spread betting firm IG Markets.

The market is expecting a quarter-on-quarter rise of 0.6% for GDP, compared to a 1.4% gain in the previous quarter.

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