By Victor Reklaitis and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures advanced modestly ahead of the open on Tuesday, as investors avoided big bets ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, while also taking in quarterly earnings and a raft of economic reports.
Futures for the S&P 500 index (SPZ3) edged up 2.3 points, or 0.1%, to 1,761.20, while those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJZ3) rose 23 points, or nearly 0.2%, to 15,541. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDZ3) added 2.75 points, or less than 0.1%, to 3,386.
These moves followed narrowly mixed action on Monday, when the Dow and Nasdaq ended close to the flat line, and the S&P 500 inched up to reach an all-time high for a second straight session.
Among highlights on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve begins the first session of its two-day policy setting meeting. Most analysts expect the central bank to stand pat on its accommodative stance, given recent weak economic data and the government shutdown and debt-ceiling battle earlier in the month.
In its accompanying policy statement, however, the Fed is likely to keep its options open about any tapering of its purchases before the end of the year. The decision is expected after the meeting ends on Wednesday.
In September, market participants expected the policy makers to start scaling back the $85-billion-a-month asset-purchase program, but the central bank surprised by waiting for more evidence of an economic recovery before pulling the tapering trigger.
"The overwhelming consensus is that nothing will happen on the taper front. But the wrong footing at the September meeting has traders a little cautious and reminded them that the 'consensus' can be 100% wrong," said Jonathan Sudaria, dealer at London Capital Group, in a note.
He added that investors should "expect markets to tread water" until after the Fed decision, which will be released as a policy statement Wednesday afternoon. There won't be a press conference.
Investors were also absorbing a flurry of economic reports.
The Commerce Department said September retail sales dipped, while economists had expected no change. The Labor Department said the producer-price index slipped in September, missing expectations for a slight rise.
U.S. stock futures added to their modest gains after the data on retail sales and wholesale prices.
At 9 a.m. Eastern time, S&P/Case-Shiller reported its home-price index for August. U.S. home prices rose 1.3% that month, the smallest monthly gain since March.
At 10 a.m., the U.S. Department of Commerce will report on business inventories for August, and economists expect growth of 0.4%, matching the prior month's report.
The Conference Board will report its consumer-confidence gauge for this month, and economists expect the reading to decline to 75 from 79.7 in September. The report is out at 10 a.m.
Apple Inc. (AAPL) remains in focus after posting earnings ahead of expectations late Monday. The tech giant earned $8.26 per share last quarter, compared with $8.67 during the same period in the previous year. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting per-share earnings of $7.92. Shares were up 0.5% premarket.
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) lost 1% in premarket action after the Dow component reported adjusted profit that beat expectations, but revenue that missed Wall Street's forecasts.
Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (KORS) rose 3.4% ahead of the open, after S&P Dow Jones Indices late Monday said the clothing and accessories retailer will join the S&P 500 index after the close on Friday.
LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) is likely to have earned 32 cents per share in the third quarter on revenue of $384.8 billion when the company reports after the close of trading. Online review company Yelp Inc. (YELP) is expected to have earned 7 cents a share in adjusted third-quarter earnings, on revenue of $59.4 billion.
In other financial markets, most European markets were higher, while Asian stocks closed mixed. Gold and oil prices were lower, pressured by a stronger dollar(DXY).
-Victor Reklaitis; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
10-29-13 1901ETCopyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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