London-listed stocks are expected to charge higher in today's session, lifted by the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's comments that interest rates will stay low "for a considerable time".
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open around 40 points above yesterday's close of 6,778.56.
After a two-day policy meeting, the central bank further tapered quantitative easing, as expected, reducing monthly bond buys by $10bn, taking the total to $35bn. This is in line with plans to wind down one of its main stimulus programmes by the end of 2014.
Notably, the Fed also cut the 2014 economic growth forecast to a range of between 2.1% and 2.3% from about 2.9%.
However, officials gave an indication of faster rate rises following Tuesday's release of the latest US inflation data, which showed prices rose more than forecast.
Capital Economics commented that the policy rate projection was "mixed", noting that "as Fed Chair Janet Yellen has stressed, should be taken with a pinch of salt anyway".
According to Barclays Research, "overall, the projections indicate the committee expects to normalise policy a bit sooner and faster, but that it will ultimately raise rates to a slightly lower level".
Meanwhile, Iraq yesterday formally urged the US to launch air strikes against militants who have seized several key cities and launched an attack on its biggest oil refinery at Baiji north of Baghdad.
"We have a request from the Iraqi government for air power," the BBC reported top US military commander Gen Martin Dempsey as telling US senators.
Turning to today, data is expected to show that UK retail sales, including auto, rose 4.3% in May compared to a year ago but fell 0.5% on the month.
Retail sales in April jumped 6.9% year-on-year and 1.3% month-on-month.
Excluding auto, sales are forecast to increase 4.8% on the year in May and decline by 0.6% on the month, following a 7.7% gain and 1.8% climb respectively.
In the US, initial jobless claims data will be released, with analysts predicting claims grew 314,000 in the week to June 14th after 317,000 claims the previous week.
In this morning's company news, jet engine maker Rolls-Royce pledged to buy back £1bn of shares
if it succeeds in its plan to sell its energy gas turbine and compressor business to Germany's Siemens. It also confirmed financial guidance for this year and next and outlined proposals to reduce capital spending in the next five years.
Hedge fund operator Man Group has conditionally agreed to acquire US firm Numeric for up to $494m in cash and options, to beef up its algorithm-based 'quant' investment offering. Man will pay $219m in cash at completion plus up to $275m in profits-dependent options on the five-year anniversary of the purchase of Boston-based Numeric, which has $14.7bn of funds under management.
Train and bus group Go-Ahead reported a solid overall performance at both of its main businesses and while its full-year expectations for its bus operations remain unchanged, it now expect the rail division to deliver operating profit ahead of previous expectations, with second half profits slightly lower than first half. "Looking ahead to next year, we expect our bus division to continue to make good progress towards our bus operating profit target of £100m by 2015/16. At this stage we expect a similar rail performance in the next financial year," it said in a company statement.
Infrastructure group Balfour Beatty has won a £184m contract to upgrade a 17-mile stretch of the M60 and M62 motorways around Manchester. The 'smart motorway' upgrade, for the Highways Agency, is expected to increase capacity, reduce congestion and shorten journey times for motorists.