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U.S. stock-index futures drifted higher on Wednesday as traders awaited what is expected to be a historic decision by the Federal Reserve.

Today's Markets

As of 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 2 points to 15463, S&P 500 futures gained 0.75 point to 1699 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 7.3 points to 3191.

The much-anticipated Fed decision day is finally here. 

Traders have been reading the tea leaves for weeks, trying to determine the central bank's plans to begin its exit from its highly-accommodative monetary policy. Wall Street has settled on the conclusion that the Fed will cut its bond purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion a month. As far as the composition goes, the Fed is expected to mostly scale back its purchases of long-term Treasury bonds, and keep its mortgage-backed security buying unchanged. 

Meanwhile, traders also expect the Fed to say it will keep interest rates at historic lows until the unemployment rate falls to roughly 6.5%. 

Also on the economic front, the Commerce Department said housing starts rose 0.9% in August to an annual rate of 891,000 units, widely missing expectations of 917,000 units. Housing permits fell 3.8% to an annual rate of 918,000 units, missing estimates of 950,000.

In corporate news, FedEx (FDX) shares climbed after the shipping giant revealed a 6.5% rise in first-quarter profits. Adobe (ADBE) also jumped after it reported strong subscriber growth. 

U.S. crude oil prices advanced 50 cents, or 0.47%, to $105.92 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.15% to $2.665 a gallon. Gold fell $9.50, or 0.73%, to $1,300 a troy ounce. 

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.64% to 2909, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.14% to 6579 and the German DAX advanced 0.49% to 8639. 

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.4% to 14505 and the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.27% to 23117.

 

Follow Adam Samson on Twitter @adamsamson.