Investing.com - Wall Street futures pointed to a flat open on Wednesday, with markets expected to look past economic data as they await the Federal Reserve's (Fed) decision on monetary policy.
The blue-chip Dow futures dropped 13 points, or 0.06%, by 6:47AM ET (11:47GMT), the S&P 500 futures slipped 1 point, or 0.03%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures inched up 2 points, or 0.05%.
The Fed is widely expected to confirm market forecasts for a 25 basis point hike in interest rates at 2PM ET (19:00GMT) Wednesday, though attention is more likely to focus on the updated economic forecasts and particularly the "dot plot" showing policymakers' expectations for the future path of interest rates, along with the follow-up press conference by Fed chief Janet Yellen, in an attempt to extrapolate how many more increases could be expected in 2017.
Several analysts were betting that the dot plot would remain unchanged, pointing as it did the prior release in September to two rate hikes next year, despite the fact that a recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists suggested there would be three increases in the following 12 months.
With the December hike fully priced in, the next tightening of monetary policy was currently expected in June 2017 with odds at 62.6%, according to Investing.com's Fed Rate Monitor Tool.
While waiting for the decision, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, slipped 0.17% to 100.91 by 6:49AM ET (11:49GMT), while gold firmed on Wednesday, trading at $1,164.35 a troy ounce, up 0.45% and holding above the lows of $1,162.95 set on Monday, the weakest since February 4.
Despite the Fed being in the spotlight on Wednesday, markets will also chew over the latest performance of November retail sales and producer prices at 8:30AM ET (13:30GMT) followed by November industrial production at 9:15AM ET (14:15GMT) and October business inventories out at 10:00AM ET (15:00GMT).
Meanwhile, oil traded lower Wednesday as investors waited for the official data on U.S. crude inventories at 10:30AM ET (15:30GMT) amid expectations for a draw of 1.548 million barrels.
Data out late Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute had shown an unexpected build 4.68 million barrels.
Oil prices were also under pressure from a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) which said it believes OPEC pumped about 34.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in
November, more than 500,000 bpd above OPEC's official estimate for October, putting into doubt the effectiveness of the recent agreement among major oil producers to reduce production.
U.S. crude futures fell 1.42% to $52.23 by 6:50AM ET (11:50GMT), while Brent oil traded down 1.33% to $54.98.
Among a small handful of earnings, Joy Global Inc (NYSE:JOY) reported earnings-per-share that matched estimates but the mining equipment manufacturer missed on revenue.
Apogee (NASDAQ:APOG) and Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR) were among firms scheduled to report earnings after the close.
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