Wall Street was set to rise at the open on Wednesday after data showed consumer prices did not overheat in November, quelling inflation worries ahead of a statement from the Federal Reserve that will be scrutinized for clues on the state of the world's largest economy.
The Labor Department said the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis after an unrevised 0.3 percent gain in October.
This could be a little bit of a relief since we've seen some inflationary numbers lately, said John Massey, portfolio manager at AIG SunAmerica Asset Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
On Tuesday, the government said U.S. producer prices jumped a surprising 1.8 percent last month, and industrial output rose firmly, sparking inflation jitters in financial markets.
Separately, data showed Wednesday that housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 584,000 in November at the fastest rate since May, and building permits increased at their fastest clip since November 2008.
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The Federal Open Market Committee will end a two-day policy-setting meeting later Wednesday that is likely to show central bank officials are more upbeat about the economy, but not enough to tighten loose borrowing costs that have encouraged risk-taking, economists say.
I expect more of the same from today's Fed comments. I think they'll talk up continued low interest rates and economic healing. I don't think expect them to change their tune, Massey said.
S&P 500 futures SPc2> rose 4.2 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 DJc2> gained 42 points and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc2> added 9 points.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)