NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Tuesday's meeting of the Federal Reserve's policy-making body will be at the center of attention of the U.S. stock markets as investors determine if the recent slide continues.
At 8:45 a.m. ET, futures pointed to a higher open for the major indexes.
The Fed isn't expected to alter interest rates at the meeting, keeping them at their lowest levels since the late 1950s. But the statement that follows the meeting will draw a lot of attention, especially if there's a change from the pledge to be "patient" before raising interest rates.
The announcement of the Fed's decision is expected about 2:15 p.m. ET
Before the markets opened, the government reported February housing starts.
For details of Monday's decline, click above
The Commerce Department said housing starts fell 4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.86 million units after falling a revised 6.3 percent in January. Economists, on average, had expected housing starts to rise to a 1.94-million-unit pace, according to Briefing.com.
However, the weaker-than-expected report had little impact on equity futures.
Both the Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq composite index are coming off Monday's bruising amid continuing concern about terrorism in the wake of last week's attack in Spain. The Dow fell 1.3 percent, while the Nasdaq was down by 2.3 percent (see chart for details).
Asian-Pacific stocks finished lower Tuesday, with Tokyo's Nikkei index down 0.7 percent. European markets started with declines. (Check the latest on world markets)
Among U.S. stocks trading in Europe, Bank of America (BAC: Research, Estimates) was lower. The financial services company agreed to join FleetBoston in a $675 million resolution to allegations of improper mutual fund trading.
Treasury prices were little changed, with the 10-year note yield at 3.76 percent. The dollar slid against the yen and euro.
Brent oil futures pulled back 23 cents to $32.58 a barrel in London, where gold advanced.