As expected, the central bank opted to maintain its $85-billion-a-month bond-purchasing program amid softer readings on the U.S. economy. "Available data suggest that household spending and business fixed investment advanced, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months," the Federal Open Market Committee statement said.
"Much ado about nothing and as such, one must infer that the Fed believes current market expectations are appropriate," emailed Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG Global.
"It seems the Fed is recycling its statements because the status quo remains, without a single clue as to when it will taper its current bond buying program. It's clear the catalyst needed to even discuss tapering again will have to come from significant improvement in the labor market," said Todd Schoenberger,managing partner at LandColt Capital.
On the economic front, the ADP employment report for October found 130,000 jobs were created in the private sector. That was the lowest reading since April and was below expectations for a gain of 150,000 jobs.
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.
Among earnings, General Motors rallied after the car manufacturer reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
Comcast rose after the parent company of NBC Universal reported net income that topped expectations.
LinkedIn posted earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street expectations. But the social-networking site issued current quarter revenue guidance below Street forecasts, sending shares sharply lower.
Western Union tumbled after reporting a 20 percent decline in earnings, with multiple brokerages slashing their price targets on the money-transfer company.
Electronic Arts soared after the video game publisher reported higher quarterly profit, drawing upgrades from several analysts.
Facebook, Starbucks and Visa are among notable companies slated to post quarterly results after the closing bell.
"We've had a slightly higher number of companies beat earnings per share, and on revenue, but the amount by which they beat has been less," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.