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Wall Street fixed on Fed as oil, ruble continue to freefall

U.S. stock-index futures turned lower Tuesday after strong gains as the Russian ruble tumbled as the Bank of Russia said it would take further action to stabilize the country's markets after an unexpected interest-rates hike and oil furthered its fall to multi-year lows.

New-home construction in the U.S. topped a million on an annualized rate in November, while housing starts fell 1.6 percent and building permits declined 5.2 percent last month.

The ruble plunged after its worst session in 15 years on Monday. The Russian stock market followed suit, falling sharply.

Falling to lows not seen since the spring of 2009, crude futures for January delivery on Tuesday fell to a low of $53.72 a barrel, and were lately off $2.18, or 3.9 percent, to $53.73 a barrel.

Read MoreMarket's seasonal cheer on hold until oil finds footing

U.S. Federal Reserve Board chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference in Washington September 17, 2014.
Gary Cameron | Reuters

Tuesday also brings the start of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting, with many market watchers expecting the central bank to drop its pledge to hold interest rates low "for a considerable time".

Read MoreGross: US structural growth rate to be about 2% or less

Star bond fund manager Bill Gross said he anticipates economic growth in the U.S. to fall to 2 percent next year as a result of the decline in the oil price.

Gross said it would be "very difficult" for oil prices to stabilize, adding that he was watching the move in oil, "quite a bit."

"Oil determines currency movements; currency movements determine spread markets, risk markets, high yield markets, the potential for bankruptcy for not only companies but countries," Gross said in an exclusive interview with CNBC.

Russiaraises key rate to 17%, effective Tuesday