* U.S. and EU impose sanctions on Russian officials
* Fed in view as two-day meeting set to begin
* Hertz rises in premarket, to spin off unit for $2.5 bln
* Futures down: Dow 18 pts, S&P 3.6 pts, Nasdaq 8.75 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 18 U.S. stock index futures were
flat on Tuesday, with investors reluctant to make big bets
following a sharp rise in the previous session, amid continued
uncertainty over Ukraine.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would move
forward with procedures to annex Ukraine's Crimean region,
defying Western sanctions in the most serious crisis between
Russia and the United States since the Cold War.
* Late Monday, the United States and the European Union
imposed personal sanctions on a handful of officials from Russia
and Ukraine who were accused of involvement in Moscow's military
seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, most of whose 2 million
residents are ethnic Russians.
* While few U.S. companies have heavy exposure to the
region, investors are worried that tensions could increase, or
that Russia may respond to the sanctions with actions of its
* Investors were also looking ahead to a two-day meeting of
the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee, which
begins Tuesday. The central bank is not expected to deviate from
previously announced policy plans, but as the Fed's stimulus has
kept a floor under equity prices, market participants will be
attuned to any hint of a change.
* S&P 500 futures fell 3.6 points and were below fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 18
points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 8.75 points.
* February consumer price and housing starts data are
scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT). Prices are
seen rising 0.1 percent while housing starts are expected to
rise modestly from the previous month.
* In company news, Hertz Global Holdings Inc said it
would spin off its equipment rental business for $2.5 billion,
and that part of the proceeds would be used to fund a stock
* American Express Co said late Monday four
financial investors had committed a total of $900 million to a
business travel joint venture, the largest single investment
ever made in a travel management company.
* Major U.S. indexes rose about 1 percent on Monday as
tensions with Ukraine appeared to ease. The rally continued a
recent trend of investors using market pullbacks as buying
opportunities following a 2 percent decline in the S&P 500 last
week. Key indexes have not had a sustained drop in more than a