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All eyes on Fed; Apple gives Wall Street a boost

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday ahead of a statement from the Federal Reserve this afternoon and more earnings, after Apple posted results after the bell on Tuesday that topped expectations.

Fed officials may hope to keep the door open for a December rate hike, but the slower economy could make them sound more dovish and unlikely to take action this year.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen explains why the Federal Reserve chose not raise interest rates on September 17, 2015 in New York.
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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen explains why the Federal Reserve chose not raise interest rates on September 17, 2015 in New York.

The Fed winds down its two-day meeting Wednesday with a statement at 2 p.m. ET, and the central bank is not expected to increase interest rates or take other action. The Fed surprised Wall Street when it held off on a rate hike in September, but since then the economic data has softened and the global headwinds the Fed pointed to in its September statement remain.

The U.S. advance September goods trade deficit was $58.63 billion.

Key earnings before the bell included Starwood Hotels, Generac and Anthem.

Amgen, PayPal, Samsung Electronics, F5 Networks, GoPro, Marriott, Vertex Pharma, Western Digital, Buffalo Wild Wings, Imax, Invensense and Yelp are due after the bell.

Apple posted quarterly earnings and revenue that topped analysts' expectations, boosted by strong iPhone growth in China on Tuesday.

The group reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $1.96 per share on sales of $51.5 billion.

Analysts expected the tech giant to report earnings of $1.88 per share on $51.11 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Shares were up about 1.5 percent in premarket trading on Wednesday.

European markets traded higher on Wednesday as investors look ahead to the conclusions of the Fed's policy meeting.

Scandal-hit carmaker Volkswagen reported an operating loss of 3.48 billion euros for the third quarter and said it expects its 2015 operating profit for both the group and the passenger cars business to be down significantly year-on-year.

In other news, Barclays appointed former investment banker Jes Staley as its new chief executive to start on December 1.