* Federal Reserve begins two-day policy meeting
* Apple in focus after closing below 200-day moving average
* Consumer price index, housing market index ahead
* Futures: S&P flat; Dow off 2 pts; Nasdaq up 1.5 pts
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were
little changed before the start of the Federal Reserve's two-day
meeting on Tuesday that could lay out plans to begin reducing
its stimulus measures.
Investors were hesitant to make big moves before the
decision by the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee on
whether to scale back its monthly $85 billion in bonds to aid
the economy. Many investors expect the Fed will taper purchases
a modest $10 billion a month.
The FOMC meeting statement will be released on Wednesday
followed by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's news conference.
"We are finally getting to a point where the Fed is to taper
or indicate that they are likely to taper. It's been discounted
by investors at this point and frankly, I would expect, whatever
the decision may be, to leave the market relatively unchanged,"
Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital
Management in New York.
"Investors will now move from broad economic news that
seemed significant in the very quiet summer to specific company
news as we enter the key fourth quarter. We will see more
interest in company forecasts and economic news like retail
S&P 500 futures were flat and in line with fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 2
points, while Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.5 points.
Market sentiment was also pressured by President Barack
Obama who warned Republicans in Congress he will not negotiate
over an extension of the U.S. debt ceiling as part of a budget
The comments from the president came after former Treasury
Sectary Lawrence Summers withdrew as a candidate for Federal
Reserve chairman, lifting some market uncertainty about a likely
contentious confirmation process. Summers was seen as more
prone to wind down stimulus than the new front-runner, Fed
Vicewoman Chairwoman Janet Yellen.
In company news, Apple Inc could be in spotlight
after the tech giant closed below its 200-day moving average for
the first time since August 2012. The stock finished at $450.12,
its lowest since July 29. In premarket trade on Tuesday, Apple
shares were down 0.7 percent at $446.88.
Pandora Media Inc shares were down 4.3 percent at
$22.95 in premarket trade a day after the company warned that
its business is slowing and proposed a follow-on offering of 10
million shares for capital expenditures, according to a
In economic data, August's consumer price index is due for
release at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). The NAHB housing market index
is due at 10 a.m.
Adobe Systems Inc is due to report results after
the close of market trading.