US STOCKS-Futures hold steady ahead of Fed statement

miércoles 16 de marzo de 2016 07:13 GYT

* Futures up: Dow 2 pts, S&P 0.25 pts, Nasdaq 2 pts

By Abhiram Nandakumar

March 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday ahead of the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting on monetary policy.

* While the central bank is expected to leave interest rates unchanged, investors will keep a close eye on its commentary for clues on the path of future hikes.

* Investors have welcomed the easing of the intense volatility that swept through financial markets in the first two months of the year, but remain cautious as calmer conditions could prompt the Fed to resume its policy tightening soon.

* Economists polled by Reuters are looking at two possible rate hikes in 2016, but financial markets are pricing in only one hike of 25 basis points.

* Global markets were mixed ahead of the Fed statement, which is expected at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT). Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m.

* Crude prices rose about 2 percent after OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to meet next month to discuss freezing output, fueling hopes of strong measures to tackle a global glut.

* U.S. stocks closed lower on a quiet Tuesday, dragged down by a decline in healthcare and energy shares.   Continuación...