(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were down on Tuesday as investors took to the sidelines before the start of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting.
Analysts expect recent soft U.S. data will nudge the Fed toward a dovish stance on monetary policy. But investors will scrutinize statements for hints about the timing of a rate hike, which is expected at the end of the year.
Apple (AAPL.O) rose 2.4 percent to $135.87 in premarket trading a day after the company beat Wall Street's revenue and profit forecasts as it sold more iPhones in China.
Merck (MRK.N) shares rose 4.5 percent to $59.65 after the company's diabetes drug, Januvia, achieved the main goal of a long-awaited heart safety study. The company also reported better than expected quarterly sales and earnings on Tuesday.
Fellow Dow component and drugmaker Pfizer advanced 1 percent to $34.95 in premarket after reporting its quarterly results.
Data expected on Tuesday include U.S. single-family home prices for February at 9:00 a.m. EDT and U.S. consumer confidence numbers for April at 10 a.m. EDT.
Wall Street ended lower on Monday led by losses in biotech shares after disappointing news from several health companies led the Nasdaq Biotech index .NBI to post its biggest daily percentage loss in over a month.
Whirlpool (WHR.N) fell 6.5 percent to $185 in light premarket trading after it lowered its profit forecast and sales outlook for 2015, blaming the dollar and Brazil's stagnating economy.
Futures snapshot at 7:17 a.m EDT:
S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were down 7.75 points, or 0.37 percent, with 97,879 contracts changing hands.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were down 6.25 points, or 0.14 percent, in volume of 17,293 contracts.
Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were down 71 points, or 0.39 percent, with 17,512 contracts changing hands.
Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Savio D'Souza