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December 12, 2012  Wed 1:47 AM CT

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The Federal Reserve dominates today's economic calendar.

The central bank will announce monetary policy at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by a press conference at 2:15 p.m. featuring Chairman Ben Bernanke. With interest rates expected to remain unchanged, attention will focus on the pace of asset purchases under the Fed's policy of so-called quantitative easing. Precious metals could be especially active on the release.

European industrial production will be released before the bell and could affect sentiment early in the session. At 7 a.m. ET the Mortgage Bankers Association will report weekly loan applications, and the Energy Department will publish oil inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Two members of the Standard & Poor's index also release quarterly results before the market opens: Joy Global, which supplies equipment to coal miners, and warehouse retailer Costco.
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