(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street as investors await Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision and continue to eye negotiations in Washington over a deal to avert the the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 10.00 points to 13,292. The Nasdaq futures gained 7 points to 2,692.75. Standard and Poor's 500 futures added 2 points to 1,433.50.
Investors keenly anticipate announcement from the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's conference for any hints regarding monetary policy. Economists expect the Fed to launch a new bond-buying program to spur growth.
Also weighing on the sentiment were talks in Washington over an agreement to address the so-called "fiscal cliff". President Barack Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
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A government data showed that import prices fell 0.9 percent in November after a 0.5 percent gain in October, sharper than economists expectations of a decline of 0.4 percent. Export prices also dropped 0.7 percent after remaining unchanged in October.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks ended on a positive note amid hopes of an agreement to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" and investors await Fed's policy decision on Wednesday.
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In corporate news, Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) shed 3.95 percent in premarket after the pharma giant announced plans to conduct an additional late-stage study of solanezumab in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease.
DuPont (NYSE: DD) rose 3.11 percent in premarket after the chemical maker said it expects earnings for 2012 at the high end of its forecast and announced a $1 billion share buyback plan.
Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) added 1.40 percent in premarket after the U.S. warehouse-club chain posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings.
Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) plunged 6.3 percent after the rare-earths producer announced that Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith has left the company. Molycorp named Constantine Karayannopoulos as interim chief executive.
Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) fell 1.40 percent in premarket. The Federal Communications Commission has approved the satellite TV provider's wireless service and also a framework for a spectrum auction next year.
Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) added 1.90 percent in premarket after the energy company announced discovery of oil offshore Ghana.
Charles River Laboratories (NYSE: CRL) dropped 3.54 percent in premarket after the outsourced preclinical services company forecast 2013 earnings that trailed market expectations.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX up 0.38 percent to trade at 7,618.42. France's CAC40 edged 0.03 percent lower to trade at 3,645.04. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.25 percent to trade at 5,940.04.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index added 0.39 percent to finish at 2,082.73. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.59 percent to close at 9,581.46. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.80 percent to end at 22,503.35. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,355.26, down 0.16 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures advanced 0.56 percent to $86.27 per barrel. Gold futures rose 0.48 percent to $1,717.80 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.28 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3041, and the British pound advanced 0.17 percent to 1.6143. The dollar added 0.45 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.8900.