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Futures lower as oil, Boeing weigh ahead of Fed statement

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wednesday as low oil prices and earnings reports weighed on stocks ahead of the expected release of the Fed meeting statement in the afternoon.

Dow futures briefly slipped 100 points as shares of Apple and Boeing both declined sharply in pre-market trade.

The iPhone maker reported lower-than-expected unit sales of its flagship product and gave guidance also below forecasts. Boeing's full-year guidance was below expectations, although the jetmaker reported earnings that beat on both the top and bottom line

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images
A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Crude oil futures declined on Wednesday, heading back towards $30 a barrel as profit-taking wiped out a chunk of the gains notched up in the previous session on hopes for output cuts.

Brent crude had declined 40 cents to $31.42 a barrel early on Wednesday, after hitting a session low of $31.05 a barrel. U.S. crude fell 80 cents to $30.65 a barrel, recovering slightly from a session low of $30.30 a barrel.

The Federal Reserve concludes its latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting with a statement release due at 2 p.m. ET.

The central bank is not expected to raise interest rates at the meeting, but markets are hoping for a dovish message.

The Fed and the markets have been at odds over the central bank's interest rate forecasts. When it raised rates for the first time in nine years in December, the forecasts of Fed officials pointed to four additional hikes for this year. As of now, the market is pricing in one and each piece of disappointing economic news has reinforced that view.

"At a minimum, the reinsertion of language used by the FOMC in September – that recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and is likely to put further downward pressures on inflation in the near term – would seem required to demonstrate that they are alive to the increased downside risks from recent events," said economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, Emily Nicol.

Ahead of the Fed announcement, new home sales figures for December are due at 10.00 a.m. ET.

Earnings will also be in focus on Wednesday, with dozens of reports due including Biogen, Boeing, Fiat Chrysler, United Tech, Anthem, General Dynamics, Norfolk Southern, St. Jude Medical and State Street all due before market open.

Major tech earnings from eBay, Facebook, Paypal, Qualcomm, Discover Financial , Juniper Networks, Las Vegas Sands, Murphy Oil, Texas Instruments, Tractor Supply, Vertex Pharma and Invensense are due after the bell.

European markets held slightly lower Wednesday in a choppy day of trade ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's next statement released later on Wednesday and as oil slipped.

Asia markets were mostly higher on Wednesday after Wall Street surged overnight on a bounce in oil prices and positive earnings news. The Shanghai composite ended lower but well off session lows.