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Futures hold small gains after economic reports, ahead of Fed meeting

U.S. stock index futures held their gains Tuesday, with the S&P 500 poised to hit a fresh high, despite a weaker-than-expected retail sales report and ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting.

On the economic front, retail sales slipped 0.1 percent in September, according to the Commerce Department. Economists polled by Reuters expected sales to rise by 0.4 percent.

Elsewhere, producer price index unexpectedly dipped 0.1 percent in September, according to the Labor Department, logging the first decline since April. Analysts polled by Reuters expected a gain of 0.6 percent.

Both economic reports had been delayed due to the government shutdown earlier this month.

Meanwhile, single-family home prices climbed 0.9 percent in August, according to the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas. Economists had expected a gain of 0.6 percent.

Also on the economic front, business inventories for August and consumer confidence for October will be reported at 10 am.

In addition, the Fed is expected to meet for its two-day FOMC meeting with the announcement expected Wednesday afternoon. Central bank members are expected to maintain the monthly $85 billion bond purchasing program until April 2014, according to the latest CNBC survey.

"A patch of weaker U.S. data poses something of an equity navigational challenge as Fed 'taper' expectations creep further into the future, extending the cheaper-U.S.-dollar lifeline for structurally weaker economies most particularly among the [emerging markets]," wrote Michael Kurtz, global head of equity strategy at Nomura.

(Read more: Data will be the key as Fed meeting starts)

The Fed last met in September and surprised markets with its decision not to start tapering its massive bond-buying program. Recent lackluster data from the U.S. and the political impasse over the country's budget has reinforced the general opinion among economists that the central bank will not taper imminently.

Meanwhile, the dollar ticked up, but remained near a nine-month trough.

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Among earnings, Apple topped quarterly expectations, but gains were limited as the iPhone maker projected gross margins for the current quarter below Street estimates.

BP rallied after the oil giant topped earnings expectations. Also, the company hiked its quarterly dividend by 5 percent and said it would sell $10 billion of assets over the next two years.

Pfizer reported quarterly earnings that topped expectations, but global sales declined 2 percent. Shares dipped slightly in pre-market trading.

And Aetna ticked lower after the health insurance company reported earnings that missed expectations and gave a full-year profit outlook that was below estimates.

LinkedIn, Yelp, Baidu and Aflac are among notable companies slated to post quarterly results after the closing bell.

The Treasury is scheduled to auction $35 billion in five-year notes with the results available shortly after 1pm ET.

In Europe, bank stocks pulled European indexes lower after UBS, Deutsche Bank and Lloyds posted earnings. Deutsche Bank's results missed expectations, while Lloyds announced further charges for miss-selling insurance. UBS narrowly beat expectations, but warned that the Swiss regulator wants it to hold more capital.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

On Tap This Week:

TUESDAY: Business inventories, consumer confidence, 5-yr note auction; FOMC mtg begins; Earnings from Baidu, Aflac, Electronic Arts, LinkedIn, Yelp
WEDNESDAY: Mortgage applications, ADP employment report, consumer price index, oil inventories, 7-yr note auction, FOMC mtg announcement, Target analyst day; Earnings from Barclays, Comcast, General Motors, Facebook, Visa, Allstate, Expedia, Kraft Foods
THURSDAY: Challenger job-cut report, jobless claims, Chicago PMI, natural gas inventories, farm prices, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Container Store IPO, Oracle shareholders mtg; Earnings from ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, MasterCard, Sony, Starbucks, AIG
FRIDAY: Fed's Bullard speaks, PMI manufacturing index, ISM manufacturing index, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, auto sales; Earnings from Chevron

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