* Fed statement at 2 p.m. ET; Yellen to speak 30 mins later
* Feb retail sales record smallest increase in 6 months
* Twitter lower after prominent accounts hacked
* Futures up: Dow 28 pts, S&P 4.25 pts, Nasdaq 8.75 pts
(Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
March 15 U.S. stocks looked set to open higher
on Wednesday thanks to a rebound in oil prices as financial
markets remained focused on a Federal Reserve meeting, where the
central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates for the
second time in three months.
The Fed is scheduled to release its latest policy statement
along with updated economic forecasts at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).
Fed Chair Janet Yellen is due to hold a press conference half an
Traders have priced in more than a 90 percent chance of a
quarter point rate increase, according to Fed fund futures.
Attention is turning to whether Yellen and her colleagues
will signal an even faster pace of monetary tightening this year
than the current three rate hikes that it projected at the
December policy meeting.
The U.S. economy has been strengthening as the labor market
approaches full employment and inflation picks up. Markets are
also betting on a potential economic boost from President Donald
Trump's proposed fiscal policies.
"A rate hike now and another in June would certainly leave
the door open to four increases and stop the Fed falling behind
the curve if the US economy does respond strongly to either
Trump's stimulus plans – should they be enacted this year – or
the prospect of them," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst
at Oanda in London.
Dow e-minis were up 28 points, or 0.13 percent, with
8,773 contracts changing hands at 8:38 a.m. ET.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 4.25 points, or 0.18 percent,
with 111,280 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 8.75 points, or 0.16
percent, on volume of 7,396 contracts.
The S&P 500 has risen 10.6 percent since the election,
spurred by optimism over Trump's policies but the major indexes
have been stuck in a tight trading range this month following a
slew of hawkish comments from Fed members.
U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as oil prices dropped to their
lowest since November.
Oil prices rebounded on Wednesday, lifted by a surprise
drawdown in U.S. inventories and after a monthly report from the
International Energy Agency said OPEC cuts need more time to
Shares of oil major Exxon were up 0.6 percent at
$81.50 in premarket trading.
Investors were also pondering data on U.S. retail sales,
which posted their smallest increase in six months in February.
Other data showed consumer prices barely rose in February
but the underlying trend remained consistent with rising
inflation. The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index
ticked up 0.1 percent last month, after jumping 0.6 percent in
Twitter was down 1 percent at $15.16 after a number of
prominent accounts on the microblogging website were hacked.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D'Silva & Shri