US STOCKS-Futures gain ahead of data, start of Fed meeting
* CPI, housing starts data on tap
* Fed begins two-day policy meeting
* Futures up: Dow 26 pts, S&P 3.25 pts, Nasdaq 8.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Tuesday, ahead of impending data on housing and inflation, and as the Federal Reserve prepared to begin a two-day policy meeting.
* The S&P 500 has advanced over the past two sessions and is down 0.7 percent from its record close on June 9 as escalating violence in Iraq has given investors reason for caution. Iraq's biggest oil refinery has been shut down and its foreign staff evacuated, refinery officials said, with local staff still in place and the military in control of the facility.
* Investors await data at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) in the form of the consumer price index and housing starts for May. CPI is expected to rise 0.2 percent versus 0.3 percent a month earlier. Estimates call for housing starts to decrease slightly to 1.03 million versus 1.07 million units a month earlier.
* The Fed begins a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday, and is widely expected to chop another $10 billion from its monthly bond purchases but make few, if any, other concrete policy moves, putting the focus on whether officials tip their hand on longer-term plans for interest rates.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 3.25 points and fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a slightly higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 26 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 8.75 points. Continuación...