Wall Street was set to open flat to slightly higher on Wednesday as caution before a Federal Reserve announcement was balanced against gains by computer maker Dell and a rebound in commodity prices.
The Federal Open Market Committee, which sets interest-rate policy, will release minutes of its April 26-27 meeting at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). Investors will look for hints about the Fed's QE2 stimulus program, which is widely expected to end in June, and will scrutinize any disagreements among officials.
Investors are also cautious about the economic outlook after Tuesday's data showing weakness in factory output and housing starts.
Stocks are having a harder time picking a direction ... many traders will likely remain on the sidelines until this afternoon when the FOMC releases its latest meeting minutes, said Andrea Kramer, analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
But Staples Inc's
S&P 500 futures rose 1.4 points and were about even with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 11 points while Nasdaq 100 futures fell 1.5 points.
The S&P 500 <.SPX> and the Dow <.DJI> dipped below their 50-day moving averages on Tuesday, but the weakness prompted some bargain hunting, which helped shares recoup some losses in late trade.
In other earnings news, Abercrombie & Fitch Co
Analysts expect an initial public offering by social networking firm LinkedIn to be a success although they said it carries a number of risks. The IPO is set to be priced on Wednesday.
After two days of losses, Brent crude rebounded and was above $111 a barrel, supported by a surprise drop in U.S. gasoline inventories and a weaker dollar.
(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)