10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Here is what you need to know.

The Fed begins its two-day meeting. On Tuesday, the Federal Open Market Committee begins its two-day policy meeting. In addition to expecting the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time since June 2006, market participants will be on the lookout for clues as to the pace of the rate hike cycle. Currently, the market is pricing in a 78% probability of a 25 basis point increase at Wednesday’s meeting, and a 33.6% chance of an additional 25 basis point hike in March.

Sweden’s central bank is “highly prepared to act.” The Riksbank held its repo rate unchanged at -0.35% in an effort to “safeguard the strength of the upturn in inflation.” The central bank says the Swedish economy is seeing “good growth,” but suggested it’s prepared to make policy even more expansionary, perhaps even acting between ordinary policy meetings. The Swedish krona is stronger by 0.8% at 8.4150 per dollar.

Germans are feeling better about their economy. Germany’s ZEW Economic Sentiment climbed to 16.1 in December from 10.4 in November. The number was above the 15.2 that economists were forecasting, and was the best print since August.”While the large influx of refugees is above all a major challenge facing policy-makers and civil society in Germany, the economic slowdown in emerging markets is exerting pressure on the German export industry. Overall, however, confidence is growing that the German economy is sufficiently robust to meet these challenges in the coming year,” noted ZEW President Professor Clemens Fuest. The euro is higher by 0.1% at 1.1007.

The UK has escaped deflation. Consumer prices in the UK edged up 0.1% year-over-year in November. The positive reading comes following two months of -0.1% YoY prints, and is the first to note rising prices in four months. The British pound is up 0.1% at 1.5155.

China has joined Europe’s development bank. The European Bank for Development and Reconstruction has accepted China as its newest member, the AFP reports. Prior to accepting China, the bank reached east to countries like Ukraine, Egypt and Mongolia. “China’s membership of the EBRD will open up significant further opportunities for sustainable investment by Chinese groups in the regions where the EBRD works,” bank president Suma Chakrabarti said in a statement.

GE’s asset dump continues. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc (SMFG) has reached an agreement with General Electric to buy its Japan leasing business for $4.8 billion. The deal is the latest effort made by GE to shed $200 billion worth of non-core assets as it shifts its focus back towards manufacturing and away from finance. According to Reuters, this is the second purchase of GE assets by SMFG this year. Back in June, SMFG bought GE’s European private equity financing business for approximately $2.2 billion.

Boeing is buying back stock and increasing its dividend. The aerospace giant announced it will buy back $14 billion worth of stock, replacing its $12 billion buyback program that had a balance of $5.25 billion remaining. In addition, Boeing will increase its quarterly dividend 20% from $0.91 to $1.09 per share.

Volkswagen is feeling the effect of its emissions scandal. The latest European auto sales figures are out, and they point to Volkswagen losing market share. Sales for the troubled automaker rose a paltry 3.1% in November, compared to the 13.7% gain for the region. The weak sales data caused Volkswagen’s market share to dip to 12.2% from 13.5%. According to Reuters, data released on December 4 showed auto sales in the UK tumbled more than 20% for the entire VW brand.

Global stock markets are mixed. Japan’s Nikkei (-1.7%) led the losses in Asia and France’s CAC (+2.5%) paces the gains in Europe. S&P 500 futures are higher by 16.50 points at 2035.00.

US economic data picks up. CPI and Empire Manufacturing cross the wires at 8:30 a.m. ET before the NAHB Housing Market Index is released at 10 a.m. ET and Net Long-Term TIC Flows are announced at 2 p.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 3 basis points at 2.25%.

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