Stock index futures fell on Tuesday, weighed by worries over weaker-than-expected import data from China and a cautious mood ahead of the Federal Reserve's meeting on monetary policy.
Speculation has been growing that the Fed will send a clear signal it is prepared to print more money to support a faltering U.S. economic recovery if necessary.
However, while the move for more easy money is good for the markets, some investors may be disappointed to hear that even the Fed, whose outlook has still been for a moderate recovery, has turned negative on its assessment of the U.S. economy.
A mere acknowledgment of a blip might also disappoint investors who have been betting the Fed would make a more concrete move, such as buying bonds to pull down market rates, known as quantitative easing.
European and Asian markets were pressured by a data that showed Chinese import growth was below expectations, further pointing to a slowing domestic demand at the world's third-largest economy.
The dollar rose against major currencies on Tuesday as traders trimmed short positions ahead of the outcome of the Fed meeting. The U.S. dollar <.DXY> was up 0.5 percent against a basket of major currencies, while oil futures fell 1.1 percent to $80.59 a barrel.
S&P 500 futures fell 5.7 points and were below 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 dipped 57 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 9.75 points.
Technology shares will be in the spotlight after top contract chipmaker TSMC <2330.TW>
Industrial conglomerate Eaton Corp
Exxon Mobil Corp
Shares of Novell Inc
U.S. stocks rose on Monday but in a quiet session as investors were wary of taking new positions before the Fed's statement.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)