Stock futures trade higher ahead of economic data, Fed decision

The Federal Reserve decision will be released Wednesday afternoon

U.S. equity futures are pointing to a higher open ahead of the Wednesday trading session, which will include the release of new economic forecasts from the Federal Reserve.

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The major futures indexes are suggesting a gain of 0.4% when trading begins.

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Investors are awaiting the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting later Wednesday.

The Federal Reserve's policymakers are expected to keep the benchmark rate at nearly zero for some time to help the economy recover and will release a statement that economists say might change some of the language around its existing pledge to buy bonds to support markets.

It will be another busy morning ahead for economic data, headlined by the August retail sales report.

The Commerce Department is expected to say retail sales rose 1% for the month of August, down slightly from July’s smaller-than-expected 1.2% rise. If you factor out autos, sales are expected to rise 0.9%, down from a stronger-than-expected increase of 1.9% in July.

The National Association of Homebuilders is out with its sentiment index for September. Watch for it to hold steady at 78. That would tie the record high of 78 in December 1998 and signal that more than three-quarters of the NAHB’s members find conditions good.

FED EXPECTED TO RAISE ECONOMIC FORECASTS, EXTEND VOW TO KEEP RATES LOW

Japan's long-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, resigned as of Wednesday and was replaced by his chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga. Suga has said he intends to push ahead with Abe's policies and little change is expected for the world's third-largest economy.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei edged 0.1% higher, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was flat and China's Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.4%

In Europe, London's FTSE slipped 0.1%, Germany's DAX rose 0.1% and France's CAC gained 0.1%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 3,401.20 after gaining more than 1% earlier in the session, its second straight sizable gain following the benchmark' index's worst week since June.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES29872.47-173.77-0.58%
SP500S&P 5003629.65-5.76-0.16%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX12094.402197+57.62+0.48%

Big Tech stocks have been bouncing back this week after suddenly losing altitude earlier this month amid worries that their prices had climbed too high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up less than 0.1%, to 27,995.60. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with tech stocks, climbed 1.2% to 11,190.32.

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A report showed U.S. industrial production strengthened last month, but not by as much as economists were expecting.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 84 cents to $39.14 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It surged $1.02 on Tuesday to $38.28 per barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.