Stock index futures rose on Tuesday ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting where policy-makers are expected to reiterate a pledge to keep interest rates very low for a long time.

The Fed is seen holding interest rates near zero, and analysts widely expect the central bank to say again that high unemployment and low inflation warrant holding borrowing costs exceptionally low for an extended period.

That stance has helped stocks rally as the flow of cheap money encourages investors to look for returns in riskier assets.

We are not expecting the Fed to alter monetary policy but expand on their exit strategy, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.

Above all, we're looking at whether or not (the Fed) may hint to a stronger economic growth and how they would deal with that while keeping inflation low.

S&P 500 futures rose 2 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 12 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.25 points.

EU finance ministers discussed standby plans drawn up by countries using the euro to provide Greece with financial help if it becomes the first state in 11 years of monetary union to seek such aid. Concerns over Greece's finances have strengthened the U.S. dollar against the euro.

EU ministers have basically put in a plan to help Greece if needed, and that probably will invite some risk-taking in the market, Cardillo said.

Limited Brands Inc's board approved on Monday a $1 special dividend and said it will buy back $200 million in shares, sending the retailer's shares up 4 percent in extended trading. Its shares closed Monday's regular session at $23.71.

Economic data on tap includes February U.S. housing starts and building permits, due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Economists expect housing starts to have decreased in February, largely because of harsh winter weather and lower demand.

Export and import prices for February are also due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT).

China shunned mounting U.S. demands for a stronger yuan, saying again its currency is not the cause of its big trade surplus and vowing to keep the currency stable to shore up exports.

Stocks were little changed on Monday, with the Dow edging up for a fifth straight day, as a late rebound in financial stocks offset nagging worries the Chinese government may tighten credit, a move that could slow the global economy's recovery.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)