U.S. stock index futures rose modestly on Wednesday, following a steep sell-off in the previous session, as investors awaited the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision and a statement on the economy.

The Fed is expected to hold interest rates near zero and repeat its vow of an extended period of very low rates as the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee concludes a two-day policy meeting. The statement is expected around 2:15 p.m. EDT.

Tuesday's sharp drop, including a 2 percent drop in the S&P 500, was triggered by downgrades in Greece and Portugal credit ratings and after a U.S. Senate subcommittee grilled Goldman Sachs executives on the bank's role in the financial meltdown, heightening the possibility of financial reform.

U.S. Senate Republicans offered counterproposals on financial regulation reform on Tuesday in a bid to water down portions of a massive Democratic bill.

Earnings season continued, with Dow Chemical Co reporting adjusted first-quarter profit that beat the consensus view and revenues rising more than expected.

WellPoint Inc also reported adjusted first-quarter earnings that beat expectations.

Corning Inc also reported quarterly results.

Visa Inc was also due to report later Wednesday.

Broadcom Corp swung to a first-quarter profit that beat expectations late Tuesday and gave a second-quarter outlook above the consensus estimate.

S&P 500 futures was up 2.4 points but slightly 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 rose 12 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 5 points.

In Europe, investors continued to reel from the Greece and Portugal downgrades, with European stocks falling nearly 1 percent Wednesday morning after a 3.1 percent sell-off the day before. <.EU>

In Tokyo, Japan's Nikkei average slid 2.6 percent, dragged down by exporters such as Kyocera <6971.T> that were hurt by fears that euro zone debt problems could spread. <.T>

Investors also digested Chinese state media reports that the country would place a moratorium on capital raising by real estate firms as part of a broader campaign to rein in property price rises.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)