Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday with the Federal Reserve expected to soothe recent concerns that it could hike interest rates later this year as the economy shows signs of stabilizing.
At the end of its two-day meeting, the Fed is widely expected by economists to leave the benchmark federal funds rate at almost zero and emphasize it will stay in this range for some time.
Investors will watch for any economic outlook from the central bank and changes in its $300 billion program of Treasury purchases, though the Fed is not expected to ramp up asset purchases.
A statement is due at 2:15 p.m. EDT.
We know they're not going to do anything on changing interest rates, so it's a matter of their statement and how bullish they are in terms of the economy and whether they say anything about increasing purchases of Treasuries and mortgaged-backed securities, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.
Before the Fed's statement, investors will take in reports on durable goods orders and new home sales, both for May.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.10 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 climbed 34 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.25 points.
Adding to optimism about the prospects of a budding recovery, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the economic outlook has improved for the first time in two years.
However, soaring unemployment and ballooning budget deficits could knock a weak recovery off track, the group said, referring to its 30 member countries.
Highlighting the inherent difficulty of predicting a turnaround, the World Bank earlier this week said prospects for the global economy remained unusually uncertain and cut its 2009 growth forecasts for most economies.
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On Tuesday, the S&P 500 rose as investors hunted for bargains, but another delay in Boeing's 787 Dreamliner project kept the Dow under water.
The broad S&P is up about 32 percent from a 12-1/2-year low in early March, though it had been up as much as 40 percent.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)