April 25, 2016 / 11:37 AM / in 2 years

US STOCKS-Futures slip as investors pause before Fed meet

* Futures down: Dow 2.25 pts, S&P 5.25 pts, Nasdaq 21 pts

By Tanya Agrawal

April 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Monday after a rally that pushed the S&P 500 closer to its record high as investors turned cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting this week.

* The central bank’s policymakers are expected to hold interest rates steady when they meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, but may tweak their description of the economic outlook to reflect more benign conditions that leave the path open for future rate rises.

* Traders are also keeping an eye on the outcome of a Bank of Japan meeting on Thursday, with expectations that Japan could push deeper into negative interest rate territory.

* The stock market is on one of its longest bull runs, with the S&P 500 about 2 percent away from its all-time high.

* Investors have been assessing first-quarter earnings, which are expected to decline 7.1 percent. Still, of the 132 S&P companies that have reported so far, 77 percent have beat expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.

* On Friday, Wall Street finished flat after disappointing quarterly reports from Microsoft and Alphabet slammed tech stocks.

* Express Scripts Holding and Roper Technologies are scheduled to report results on Monday.

* Oil prices slipped on Monday as traders took profits after three weeks of gains and as a jump in the dollar late last week was priced into fuel markets.

* The Commerce Department is expected to report that new home sales increased 1 percent to an annualized rate of 520,000 units in March, according to a Reuters survey of economists. The data is expected at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).

* Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ U.S.-listed shares were up 5 percent at $38 in premarket trading after a Reuters report that drugmaker Perrigo is expected to name a new chief executive, freeing Joseph Papa to join Valeant.

Futures snapshot at 7:15 a.m. ET:

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.25 points, or 0.11 percent, with 185,144 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 5.25 points, or 0.12 percent, on volume of 18,511 contracts.

* Dow e-minis were down 21 points, or 0.12 percent, with 20,965 contracts changing hands. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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