March 19 (Reuters) - Stock futures pointed to a slightly higher opening for Canada's main stock index on Wednesday ahead of the end of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting, at which the central bank is widely expected to reduce the size of its monthly bond purchase program.
June futures on the S&P TSX index <0#SXF:> were up 0.09 percent at 0715 ET.
Wholesale trade data is due at 0830 ET
The S&P TSX index gained almost 1 percent on Tuesday as investors focused on signs that the crisis in Ukraine will not escalate and as central banker comments at home on slow growth were interpreted to mean interest rates will remain low.
Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 0.12 percent at 0715 ET, while S&P 500 futures were up 0.06 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.26 percent.
Jim Flaherty, the long-serving Conservative finance minister who helped steer the economy through the global financial crisis, resigned from the cabinet on Tuesday, leaving the country on track to balance its books by 2015.
It is unlikely that bad weather has been entirely to blame for recent economic weakness in Canada, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said on Tuesday as he warned about the risk of a prolonged period of sluggish growth.
Blackstone Group LP is working on a higher takeover bid for industrial conglomerate Gates Global Inc, owned by Onex Corp and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, after its previous offer of roughly $5.5 billion was turned down, people familiar with the matter said.
COMMODITIES AT 0715 ET
Gold futures : $1,356; -0.07 pct
US crude : $99.63; -0.07 pct
Brent crude : $106.21; -0.54 pct
LME 3-month copper : $6,431; -0.8 pct
ANALYST RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS
Alimentation Couche-Tard : CIBC, Canaccord Genuity, NBF raise price targets
Blackpearl Resources : CIBC, Canaccord Genuity raise target price
Vermilion Energy : National Bank Financial, RBC raises price target
U.S. ECONOMIC DATA DUE ON WEDNESDAY
07:00 Mortgage market index: Actual 369.0 prior 373.3
07:00 MBA purchase index: Actual 167.3 prior 168.8
07:00 Mortgage refinance index: Actual 1528.4 prior 1547.9
07:00 MBA 30-yr mortgage rate: Actual +4.50 pct prior +4.52 pct
08:30 Current account for Q4: Expected -88.0 bln Prior -94.8 bln
14:00 Fed funds target rate
14:00 QE total: Prior 65.00 bln
14:00 QE MBS: Prior 30.00 bln
14:00 QE Treasuries: Prior 35.00 bln
FOR CANADIAN MARKETS NEWS, CLICK ON CODES IN BRACKETS:
TSX market report
Canadian dollar and bonds report
Reuters global stocks poll for Canada
Canadian markets directory ($1= $1.11 Canadian) (Reporting by Ayesha Sruti Ahmed in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)