US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat as investors await data, Fed

Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:21am EDT

* Fed's FOMC begins 2-day monetary policy meeting

* US Feb home prices see best yearly rise in almost 7 years-S&P

* UBS posts strong first-quarter on trading income surge

* Futures: S&P down 1.9 pts, Dow falls 3 pts, Nasdaq up 0.75 pt

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set for a flat open on Tuesday as investors awaited economic data and central bank meetings this week, looking for catalysts to push the benchmark S&P 500 index through 1,600.

The Fed's Open Market Committee will begin a two-day meeting on monetary policy, with a statement expected on Wednesday. Recent weak U.S. economic data and signs of low inflation point to the Fed's maintaining its pace of bond buying to stimulate the economy.

The European Central Bank will convene on Thursday, and a Reuters poll of economists on Thursday said policymakers are expected to cut interest rates.

"With earnings season coming to an end, the focus is now on what the next market driving theme is," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

"The economic data, the comments from ECB and FOMC could all be the drivers, an additional confirmation to justify the levels we are at now. All of these factors come to play for us to break out to a whole new territory, above 1,600 (on the S&P 500)."

S&P 500 futures fell 0.9 point and were in line with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures were flat while Nasdaq 100 futures added 1.25 points.

The S&P 500 index ended at an all-time high on Monday as growth-oriented stocks, including energy and technology, led the way to the index's sixth rise in the past seven sessions.

A positive finish to April would deliver a sixth straight month of gains. That would be the longest winning streak since September 2009 when the index rallied for seven straight months. The broad market index is up 1.6 percent for the month.

In macroeconomic news, data showed U.S. single-family home prices rose more than expected in February, posting their best annual rise since May 2006 in a fresh sign the housing recovery remains on track. Market reaction was muted.

The Chicago purchasing managers' index for April will be released at 9:45 a.m. ET (1346 GMT) and the Conference Board's April consumer confidence index is due at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Financial stocks were likely to be in focus after UBS beat expectations for first-quarter profit thanks to a surge in trading income from its investment bank and more fees from wealthy clients. [ID:nL6N0DH07H} Strong results from banks and expectations of more central bank stimulus took European shares to a 4-1/2 year high.

On the corporate earnings front, Pfizer Inc shares were down 3 percent in premarket trade after posting lower-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue. The largest U.S. drugmaker also trimmed its full-year profit outlook.

U.S. retailer Best Buy Co Inc retreated from its ill-fated European expansion by selling its stake in a joint venture to Carphone Warehouse Group for less than half what it paid five years ago. Best Buy shares rose more than 5 percent in premarket trade.

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