Stock futures are slightly higher ahead of the Fed

Stock futures are modestly higher ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy update and press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Near 8:56 a.m. ET, Dow futures were up 42 points, S&P 500 futures were up three points, and Nasdaq futures were up five points.

Stocks posted their most substantive gain in three trading sessions on Tuesday.

In focus today is the Federal Open Market Committee’s assessment of the economy, and its projected path and timing for rate hikes. Business Insider’s Myles Udland has the full preview here.

At 2:00 p.m. ET, the Fed’s monetary policy statement will cross, expected to leave interest rates unchanged.

Crude oil prices are rallying, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading at around $US61.30 per barrel, up 1.5%. At 10:30 a.m. ET, the Energy Information Administration will release the latest data on US crude oil inventories, which could fall for a seventh straight week amid increasing production.

The US dollar, gold and silver are all a tad lower.

US treasuries are also lower, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year note is near 2.33%.

FedEx reported fourth-quarter earnings, missing on the top and bottom lines. Earnings per diluted share came in at $US2.66, lower than estimates for $US2.69. Sales came in at $US12.1 billion, compared to the forecast for $US12.30 billion.

The company said it “assumes continued moderate economic growth.”

And in the latest biotech deal, Allergan is buying Kythera Biopharmaceuticals for $US2.1 billion. The Botox maker will add an injection that treats double chin to its portfolio.

Kythera shares were up more than 22% in premarket trading.

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