US futures pause for breath ahead of Fed rate decision

  • The interest rate decision and latest policy announcements by the U.S. central bank, are due out at 2 p.m. ET
  • In earnings, Nordson, ABM Industries and Pier 1 Imports are all set to report

U.S. stock index futures are set for a relatively flat open on Wednesday as a monetary policy decision from the Federal Reserve looms.

Dow Jones industrial average rose just 22 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 12points. S&P 500 futures traded 1 point higher.

While politics and individual stock news may move markets somewhat during today's session, investors will be placing most of their attention on a rate decision and policy announcements by the U.S. Federal Reserve, all due out at 2 p.m. ET.

Traders work as a television monitor displays Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announcing the Fed's decision to raise interest rates on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) June 14, 2017 in New York City.
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Traders work as a television monitor displays Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announcing the Fed's decision to raise interest rates on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) June 14, 2017 in New York City.

Market-watchers expect the U.S. central bank to raise rates for one last time this year during its December meeting, after it announced in October that despite inflation, a rate hike was all but certain.

Aside from an interest rate decision, traders will be paying close attention to what the Fed will say in regards to tax reform and the state of the U.S. economy.

Fed Governor Lael Brainard will be at Rochester, New York, speaking at the Awards Ceremony for Workforce Development Video Campaign.

In earnings, Nordson, ABM Industries and Pier 1 Imports are all set to report after the bell. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.4 percent in November, as expected.

In the previous session, U.S. equities closed higher amid growing optimism that Republican lawmakers could overhaul the corporate tax system. While tax reform is expected to keep investors on edge Wednesday, another area of domestic politics is set to shake up sentiment.

Democrat Doug Jones is projected to be the apparent winner of a Senate election in Alabama, beating scandal-ridden Republican Roy Moore in one of America's deepest conservative states, according to NBC News.

The result is expected to trigger ramifications for U.S. politics, with this win marking the first time in a quarter-of-a-century that a Democrat has been elected to the Senate from Alabama.

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Elsewhere, investors will be paying close attention to the latest moves in Bitcoin, after it launched on the Cboe Futures Exchange last weekend.

Crude futures pointed higher Wednesday on the back of a larger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Overseas, European markets treaded water, while markets in Asia finished on a mixed-to-mostly positive note.