Markets hold breath ahead of Fed conference tonight

The biggest news to watch for today will be US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s news conference, scheduled for half an hour after the central bank’s post-meeting statement at 1900 this evening (BST).

It is hoped that Bernanke will bring some certainty to the markets following days of excessive volatility as investors speculate over the longevity of the Fed’s bond buying programme and how it plans to taper it.

The markets are holding their collective breath this morning, with little happening to the exchange rates of the major currencies and European shares expected to open steady. Asian markets were slow, with the exception of the Nikkei, rising 1.1 per cent as exporters took advantage of a weaker yen.

Also today:

Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Minutes (0930)

Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards report released

George Osborne and Mervyn King to give speeches at the annual Mansion House dinner

German ten-year bond auction (1030)

Prime Minister’s questions at midday, followed by a statement from David Cameron on the G8 summit