Stock Market Today: Will the Fed Pull the Trigger on Stimulus?

Stock Market Today: Will the Fed Pull the Trigger on Stimulus?

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Expect a strong start to the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to rise by 79 points at the opening bell, according to index futures. With the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting starting tomorrow, stocks could be headed for another volatile week as traders try to predict -- and then react to -- the central bank's changing stimulus plans. A recent poll by The Wall Street Journal found that most economists expect the Fed to delay its tapering announcement again, until early next year, but some believe that the bond-buying drawdown could begin after the conclusion of Wednesday's meeting.

With that bigger picture in mind, here are a few individual stock stories to keep an eye on in today's market.

AerCap Holdings shares are on the move after the company announced a deal to buy American International Group's aircraft leasing business for $5.4 billion. AerCap is funding the purchase with $3 billion in cash and about 100 million newly issued shares, giving AIG a 46% stake in the aircraft leaser. This could be a good deal for AerCap: It's grabbing a major global franchise from AIG, which has been pushing to shed noncore assets in a bid to raise cash and improve the stability of its business. AerCap's shares are up 32% in premarket trading.

BP this morning announced an agreement with the government of Oman on a major project to deliver up to 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day, or about a third of Oman's total output. BP will invest about $16 billion through the decades-long development, which also gives the company an opportunity to assess other regions within Oman for their gas production potential. BP's stock is up 2% in premarket trading.

Finally, Darden Restaurants could be worth much more if it breaks apart. An activist hedge fund is pushing for the company to split its slow-growing Red Lobster and Olive Garden brands from its higher-growth initiatives, including LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille, according to Barron's magazine. The fund argues that shares would be worth 40% more after such a split. Management doesn't seem keen on the move, though, preferring instead to try to resurrect slumping sales at its flagship restaurants through menu tweaks like the new cheeseburger now on offer at Olive Garden. Darden's shares are up 1.8% in premarket trading.

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Fool contributor Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American International Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of American International Group and Darden Restaurants and has the following options: long January 2016 $30 calls on American International Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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