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By Angela Moon
NEW YORK (Reuters) - S&P 500 index futures wereflat Tuesday as investors waited to see if the FederalReserve changes its monetary easing policy at a meeting laterin the day.
The Fed is expected to tread water, with a renewed promiseto keep its portfolio from shrinking but no new steps to easeits monetary policy. The central bank acknowledged in Augustthe U.S. recovery had lost momentum and Fed Chairman BenBernanke said it would renew efforts to stimulate growth if theoutlook soured appreciably.
"We'll be watching for clues to their intent with trying tolower interest rates even more, in addition to their view onthe economy," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at MillerTabak + Co in New York.
"Gold is up $80 plus from the last meeting and is theultimate arbiter of central bank policy. Without sound money,no healthy recovery can be had."
August housing starts data is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, with economists expecting an annualized rate of 550,000units, up from 546,000 units in the previous month. The reportwill offer a better sense of whether the housing market canstand on its own feet after months of government support.
S&P 500 futures were down 0.3 points and in linewith fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by takinginto account interest rates, dividends and time to expirationon the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futuresgained 7 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rise 3.75points.
The S&P 500closed at a four-month high on Monday asthe index broke above a key technical range.
Banking stocks will be in view after a source told Reutersthat Bank of America Corp is laying off about 5 percentof its investment banking staff and will inform employees thisweek.
Global airlines are likely to post sharply higher 2010profits than previously forecast as the industry rebounds fromeconomic recession, the International Air Travel Associationsaid.
Nokia , the world's top cellphone maker,decided for the second time to delay the launch of its N8smartphone, which is intended to challenge Apple Inc's iPhone.
Real estate investment trust Home Properties Inc raised its outlook for third-quarter funds from operations.
Barnes & Noble Inc failed to win the support of aninfluential shareholder advisory firm but got the backing ofanother in its fight with billionaire investor Ron Burkle overthe future of the nation's largest bookseller. (Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)