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U.S. Stock Futures Pause; Fed Ahead

Rouhan Sharma

U.S. stock index futures were treading water ahead of the opening bell as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting.

Futures for the S&P 500 index as well as the Nasdaq index were little-changed -- down 0.25 points at 1830.50 points and up 0.50 points at 3549.30, respectively.

The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release today minutes of its December policy meeting, after which the central bank had announced plans to scale back its monthly purchase program by $10 billion to $75 billion.

Market participants will be looking for further cues as to why the Fed took the decision and also by when the Fed is likely to start rolling back the stimulus.

Other than this, the ADP non-farm employment data is also likely to be the focus of investor interest today. The report will be released at 8:15 a.m. Eastern time.

More data scheduled for release today includes MBA weekly mortgage applications at 7:00 a.m. followed by crude oil and gasoline inventories and EIA Weekly distillates stocks coming in at 10:30 a.m., while consumer credit data will hit the wires later in the day at 3:00 p.m.

In corporate news, media reports said Citigroup Inc. (C) is considering selling its $1 billion stake in holdings managed by a private equity manager. Scaling back on these holdings, which are considered illiquid, would help the bank comply with new regulatory requirements that limit risk-taking by banks. Shares of the bank slipped 0.4% in pre-market trades.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) has reportedly agreed to pay the U.S. government and victims of Bernard L. Madoff's Ponzi scheme $2.6 billion for failing to report signs that could have exposed the $17.5 billion fraud earlier.

Entertainment giant Time Warner Inc. (TWX) might acquire Eyeworks Holding BV, a privately owned Dutch television production company, according to a report by Dutch daily het Financieele Dagblad.