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Futures edge lower after data

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wednesday amid data reports ahead of the conclusion of the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

Housing starts rose 5.2 percent in February. The consumer price index showed a 0.2 percent decline.

Ex food and energy, the so-called core CPI rose 0.3 percent in February for a 2.3 percent rise over the 12 months through February, Reuters said.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is seen speaking on a television screen in New York.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is seen speaking on a television screen in New York.

Treasury yields rose, with the 2-year yield near 1 percent for its highest since Jan. 8.

The U.S. dollar index held higher, with the euro near $1.108 and the yen at 113.65 yen against the greenback as of 8:38 a.m. ET.

Industrial production declined 0.5 percent in February, with capacity utilization at 76.7 percent.

The FOMC is due to conclude its two-day meeting on Wednesday with the 2 p.m. ET release of its statement and economic projections. Those include the highly scrutinized "dot plot," which shows the targets for appropriate federal funds rates by FOMC participants.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen is also scheduled to give a news conference at 2:30 p.m.

While policy is widely anticipated to remain unchanged, with the Fed Funds Rate left at 0.25 to 0.50 percent, the Fed's updated economic forecasts and Yellen's post-meeting press conference will be scrutinized for insight into the near-term policy outlook.

"Given the likely downward revision to the Fed's GDP growth forecast in the current year (from 2.5 percent), the dot plots of FOMC member views will also likely signal a slower pace of further hikes over the remainder of the year, with the median expectation of the Fed Funds Rate at end-2016 likely to be pushed lower by 25 or 50 basis points from the range of 1.25-1.50 percent signaled at December's meeting," said economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, Emily Nicol.

FedEx is scheduled to report earnings after the close Wednesday and will be scrutinized for insight into global economic activity. Williams-Sonoma will also report after the bell.

European equities edged higher on Wednesday as markets await the latest interest rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy committee.

In the U.K., Chancellor George Osborne reports his annual borrowing and spending plans to the U.K. parliament in an exercise known as the "budget". Osborne is expected to announce further cuts to public spending in his speech to MPs.

In Asia, markets closed mixed Wednesday, as traders awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve decision.