July 26, 2016 / 11:22 AM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as investors brace for earnings, Fed meet

* Futures: Dow up 10 pts, S&P down 0.25 pts, Nasdaq up 3.25 pts

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Tuesday as investors braced for a flurry of corporate earnings, including those of Apple, and ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting.

* The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday to decide whether the U.S. economy is strong enough to absorb an interest rate hike.

* The central bank will announce its decision at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) on Wednesday.

* However, the Fed is not expected to pull the trigger on interest rates in the near term as inflation remains below its 2 percent target, while global growth continues to sputter.

* Traders have priced in an 18.7 percent chance of a rate increase in September and 42.8 percent in December, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

* Investors are also bracing for a host of earnings from companies such as Apple and Twitter, which are scheduled to report after market close.

* Apple and Twitter’s shares were down 0.3 percent in premarket trading.

* DuPont shares rose 1.5 percent after the chemical maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and gave an upbeat earnings forecast for the current quarter.

* Centene’s shares rose 2.3 percent to $77 after the health insurer reported quarterly revenue that nearly doubled.

* Gilead shares fell 4.8 percent after the drugmaker cut its full-year sales forecast, attracting a host of price target cuts. The stock was the top loser among S&P components.

* Wall Street ended lower on Monday as weak oil prices weighed on energy shares. Oil prices continued to be lower on Tuesday on oversupply worries.

* Investors will also keep an eye on economic data to judge the health of the U.S. economy. A report by Conference Board is likely to show the consumer confidence index slipped to 95.9 in July from 98.0 in June. The data is expected at 10:00 a.m. ET.

* Another report will show single-family homes sales rose 1.6 percent in June to 560,000. The report is due at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Futures snapshot at 7:16 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 10 points, or 0.05 percent, with 20,741 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 140,217 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 3.25 points, or 0.07 percent, on volume of 17,308 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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