Stock index futures edged up on Wednesday as investors shied away from big bets ahead of Federal Reserve statements on the state of the economy.
The Fed's monetary policy committee wraps up its two-day meeting Wednesday. The central bank is expected to leave the key target interest rate unchanged, but investors will parse the Fed's policy comments for any changes in its outlook or its program to buy Treasury bonds.
The focus is on what they say about the economy, quantitative easing, hints that they might change monetary policies sooner than expected, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.
The market already has taken into account that the economy is in recovery. Today's announcement will show the strength of that recovery.
Toll Brothers Inc
Other stocks pointing to a higher open include Applied Material Inc
JPMorgan Chase & Co
S&P 500 index futures rose 1.3 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 added 10 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3 points.
Asian shares retreated, however, on uncertainty about the Fed's views. Chinese stocks sank 4.7 percent to their lowest close in four weeks, while Hong Kong shares slid 3 percent.
Other economic indicators set for release include the Commerce Department's June international trade at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a $28.50 billion deficit, compared with a $25.96 billion deficit in May.
U.S. stocks fell Tuesday after a prominent banking analyst questioned the sector's recent gains and industry fundamentals. An unexpectedly large drop in wholesale inventories also raised worries about a recovery, but the broader S&P 500 is still up 47 percent from its closing-low set on March 9.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)