* Fed's FOMC begins 2-day monetary policy meeting
* US Feb home prices see best yearly rise in almost 7
* UBS posts strong first-quarter on trading income surge
* Futures: S&P down 1.9 pts, Dow falls 3 pts, Nasdaq up 0.75
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, April 30 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 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.