Thursday, 27 July 2017

(Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were poised to open at record levels on Wednesday following a set of strong quarterly earnings, led by Boeing and AT&T, while investors awaited the outcome of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting.

Although the central bank is not likely to raise interest rates, it is expected to discuss its monetary policy stance and the timing of a long-awaited balance sheet reduction. The Fed's statement is due at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

"Many questions still remain unanswered over both the timings and pace of rate hikes, which may weigh on the minds of Fed watchers ahead of the rate decision," said Lukman Otunuga, analyst with FXTM.

"Any unexpected surprises from the policy statement may come in the form of inflation concerns as the central bank acknowledges the fall in inflation and the impact it has on reaching its 2 percent inflation target."

The S&P and the Nasdaq closed at record highs on Tuesday, while the Dow hovered around record levels, helped by well-received reports from big names, including McDonald's  and Caterpillar .

The market's record run has left equities relatively expensive and investors are counting on earnings to justify the valuations.

Earnings of the S&P 500 companies are expected to have climbed 9.1 percent in the second quarter, up from an 8 percent rise estimated at the start of the month, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The S&P 500 is trading around 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, well above its long-term average of 15 times.

Facebook, Gilead Sciences, O'Reilly Automotive report results after the bell.

Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 71 points, or 0.33 percent, with 16,260 contracts changing hands at 8:20 a.m. ET.

S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 4.5 points, or 0.18 percent, with 123,297 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 12.75 points, or 0.21 percent, on volume of 17,844 contracts.

Shares of Advanced Micro Devices  jumped 9.4 percent after the chipmaker raised its full-year revenue expectations.

Beverage maker Coca-Cola  pared early gains to trade up 0.1 percent after its quarterly profit dropped 60 percent.

Boeing (BA.N) rose 3.3 percent after reporting a quarterly profit, compared with a loss a year earlier, and the planemaker raised its full-year core profit forecast.

Ford Motor (F.N) fell 1.9 percent after the automaker warned that its full-year automotive operating margin and cash flow would be lower than in 2016.

AT&T was up 3.2 percent after the wireless carrier's quarterly profit topped estimates.

Amgen was down 2.5 percent after the biotechnology company's sales for an infection fighter drug came in below expectations.

Reporting by Tanya Agrawal

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