U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open 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 very low rates for an extended period as the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee concludes a two-day policy meeting. The statement is expected at around 2:15 p.m. EDT.
Tuesday's sharp drop, including a 2 percent fall 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.
Earnings season stayed in high gear, with Dow Chemical Co up 2.7 percent to $30.89 in early trading after reporting a profit that beat expectations.
WellPoint Inc and Corning Inc both posted better-than-expected results. Corning rose 2.4 percent to $20.60.
On the downside, Sprint Nextel Corp sank 4 percent to $3.93 after it recorded a wider loss, but met expectations, excluding charges.
We continue to get positive earnings surprises and good guidance, especially in the industrial sector, but the issues in Europe could overshadow that, said Craig Peckham, trading strategist at Jefferies & Co in New York.
S&P 500 futures were up 6 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 rose 45 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 11.25 points.
Nasdaq futures were helped by Broadcom Corp , which rose 2.5 percent to $35.70 a day after the company swung to a first-quarter profit, beating expectations, and gave an outlook above the consensus estimate.
U.S. Senate Republicans offered counterproposals on financial regulation reform in a bid to water down portions of a massive Democratic bill.
In Europe, investors continued to reel from the Greece and Portugal downgrades, with European stocks falling 0.3 percent Wednesday morning after a 3.1 percent sell-off the day before.
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)