Stocks index futures edged up on Tuesday, pointing to a slightly firmer start for Wall Street, ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting where policymakers are expected to reiterate a pledge to keep interest rates low for a long time.

The Fed is seen holding interest rates near zero, and analysts widely expect the central bank to say again that high unemployment and low inflation warrant holding borrowing costs exceptionally low for an extended period.

Economic data likely to garner interest on Tuesday include February housing starts, due at 1230 GMT. Analysts expect housing starts to have decreased in February, largely due to harsh winter weather and lower demand.

U.S. building permits for February as well as export and import prices for the month are also due at 1230 GMT.

Discover Financial releases first-quarter figures. Analysts expect the firm to post $0.12 earnings per share, against a loss of $0.32 per share a year ago.

Shoe retailer DSW is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings. Analysts expect earnings of $0.32 per share, up from a loss of $0.17 per share in the same quarter of 2009.

Energy shares will be in focus ahead of an output policy meeting by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Wednesday, with crude prices steadying at around $80 a barrel.

China on Tuesday shunned mounting U.S. demands for a stronger yuan, saying again that its currency is not the cause of its big trade surplus and vowing to keep the currency stable to shore up exports.

U.S. stocks were little changed on Monday as a late rebound in financial stocks offset nagging worries the Chinese government may tighten credit, a move that could slow growth in the global economy.

Limited Brands Inc shares gained 4.1 percent to $24.67 in extended trade on Monday after the company announced a $1 per share special dividend and $200 million share repurchase program.

Sequenom Inc shares tumbled 9.8 percent to $7.00 in extended trade on Monday after the company posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares gained 0.8 percent in early trade on Tuesday, with banks and oil and gas companies among the biggest gainers.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc ousted whistle blower Matthew Lee just weeks after he had raised concerns with Lehman's auditor about the firm's accounting in 2008, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by Hans Peters)