The ADP employment report for October found 130,000 jobs were created in the private sector. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 154,000 jobs were created this month, down on 166,000 in September.
Plus, the delayed CPI (consumer price index) for September had inflation up 0.2 percent. The benign inflation reading continues to "give license to the Fed to focus more so on employment. That said, in an environment of very little income growth, modest inflation should be cheered not jeered," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, said in emailed commentary.
The Federal Reserve started a two-day meeting on Tuesday,with an announcement expected at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday. There will be no press briefing with Chairman Ben Bernanke this month.
The central bank is expected to maintain its $85-billion-a-month bond-purchasing program until April 2014, according to the latest CNBC survey of economists, strategists and money managers.
"Direction will be limited ahead of the Fed outcome, where markets hope to garner some clues on the timing of the beginning of tapering. However, given that the consensus has clearly shifted to a March 2014 beginning of tapering, it is difficult to see how the Fed could build on already dovish market expectations," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global markets research Asia, at Credit Agricole.
(Read more: Wall Street listens for cooing of dovish Fed)
General Motors rose nearly 3 percent after the car manufacturer reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
Comcast shares were slightly higher after the parent company of NBC Universal reported net income that topped expectations.
It will also be a busy day on the government bond calendar,with the Treasury to auction $29 billion of seven-year notes.
—By CNBC's Katy Barnato