U.S. stock futures suggested a positive Wall Street open on Wednesday, aided by a recovery in battered Chinese stocks as the spotlight turned to the end of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day meeting.
But it was the Fed that was expected to dominate the day as investors try assessing just when the U.S. central bank will start lifting interest rates from near zero levels.
The Fed is expected to issue its statement on monetary policy at 2 p.m. ET, with no news conference scheduled.
Fed-watchers polled by CNBC anticipate a rate hike in September, by a very thin margin.
While economic data point to a recovery in the economy and strengthening labour market conditions, a crisis in Greece, turmoil in Chinese markets and a sharp selloff in commodities have all clouded the outlook for a near-term rate hike, analysts say.
"I think it's the most likely date right now," Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. market strategist at RBC Capital Markets told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe," referring to the prospect of a rate hike at the Fed's September meeting.
"The odds among Wall Street folk are a little better than 50-50 but as an equity strategist, if they (the Fed) don't move in September, the market will take that as bad news," Golub said. "If you can't get to 25 basis points on the cost of short-term money what does that say to an equity investor who's trying to make a decision on whether to put risk capital out there?"
U.S. stocks closed about 1 percent higher on Tuesday as investors found encouragement from some recovery in oil prices and Chinese stocks, amid mixed earnings and the start of the Fed's two-day meeting.
Chinese stocks, which succumbed to heavy selling at the start of the week, rallied on Wednesday as investors took comfort from Beijing's efforts to stabilize a volatile stock market.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite stock index closed almost 3.5 percent higher – helping boost sentiment across global share markets. Most Asian stock markets ended the session higher, while European stocks rallied initially before trimming gains to trade mixed.
U.S. stock futures, meanwhile, were modestly higher with index futures for the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average trading about 40 points higher.
June pending home sales numbers at 10:00 a.m. ET may attract some attention in an otherwise thin economic calendar.
Weekly mortgage applications barely moved for the second week in a row, rising just 0.8 percent, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said.
Twitter may also be in focus after the micro-blogging firm's shares fell more than 10 percent in after-hours trade following comments from company executives on Tuesday.
In a conference call following the release of second-quarter earnings, Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said the firm would not see "sustained, meaningful" user growth for a "considerable period of time."
Early on Wednesday, a number of banks cut their price targets for Twitter shares, according to Reuters. Nomura for instance cut its target price to $33 from $39, while JPMorgan cut its price target to $50 from $55. Twitter shares closed Tuesday at $36.54.