Futures edge higher ahead of Fed policy meet

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures ticked higher on Wednesday as investors hoped for cues of support from the Federal Reserve, while the country grappled with a spike in coronavirus cases.

Recent data pointed to a possible slowdown in business and hiring as infections spiked in the three most populous states — California, Florida and Texas — this month.

Investors will keep a close watch on how the U.S. central bank addresses these economic risks at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday.

No major policy decisions are expected in Fed’s statement at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) which will be followed by Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference.

Emergency monetary stimulus measures along with trillions of dollars in fiscal support have been pivotal in driving a sharp recovery in the U.S. stock markets since March.

Republicans in the U.S. Congress, White House and Democrats still struggled to find a footing over their $1 trillion new coronavirus aid package, as the expiry of a $600-per-week enhanced coronavirus unemployment benefit loomed.

Wall Street’s main indexes closed lower in the previous session as investors fretted over weakening consumer confidence and disappointing financial results from industrial conglomerate 3M Co (MMM.N) and McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N).

Focus will also be on quarterly earnings reports from Boeing Co (BA.N) and defense contractor General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) among many others later in the day.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.O) jumped 11.3% premarket after the chipmaker raised its full-year revenue forecast, driven in part by an overall surge in chip demand due to a global shift to work from home, and market-share gains from larger rival Intel Corp (INTC.O).

At 6:21 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 17 points, or 0.06%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 6.25 points, or 0.19% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 49 points, or 0.46%.

The chief executives of four of the world’s largest tech companies, Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Facebook Inc (FB.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) will testify on Wednesday to a panel of lawmakers investigating how their business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals.

All four companies are set report results on Thursday.

Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) climbed 5.3% after the coffee chain said business was “steadily recovering” worldwide and it would return to profitability in the current quarter on improving sales and margins.

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