* Futures down: Dow 15 pts, S&P 2.75 pts, Nasdaq 7.75 pts
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Oct 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Monday as investor optimism about central bank easing faded ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting this week.
* The Fed, which meets on Oct. 27-28, is scheduled to issue a statement on Wednesday. Investors will scrutinize it for a bearing on when the central bank could raise rates.
* While Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said the central bank could raise rates this year, it would do so only if there are clear signs of sustained economic growth.
* Traders are pricing in only a 6 percent chance of rates being increased on Wednesday and a 39 percent chance of a December hike, according to CME Group’s FedWatch program.
* Wall Street closed higher on Friday after a rally in tech stocks helped the S&P 500 to positive territory for the year.
* Strong quarterly results from tech companies helped improve expectations on overall U.S. corporate earnings.
* S&P 500 earnings for the period are now expected to have declined a more modest 2.8 percent, compared with 4.9 percent forecast at the start of the reporting season, according to Thomson Reuters data.
* Data on new U.S. home sales is expected to show a decline to an annual rate of 550,000 units in September after two months of gains. The data is expected at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).
* Xerox’s shares were up 1.4 percent at $10.48 in premarket trading on Monday after it reported results and said it would review its operations.
* Valeant Pharmaceuticals sank nearly 14 percent to $100.50. The company said it would set up a panel to probe allegations about its associations with specialty pharmacy distributor Philador.
* Ctrip.com rose 14.3 percent to $85.00 after the online travel firm said it would merge with Qunar Cayman Islands. Qunar jumped 26.5 percent to $50.00.
Futures snapshot at 6:59 a.m. ET:
* S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.75 points, or 0.13 percent, with 90,125 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7.75 points, or 0.17 percent, on volume of 16,234 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were down 15 points, or 0.09 percent, with 14,195 contracts changing hands. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)