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US futures slightly higher after Fed signals patience with rate hikes

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U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher start to the trading session on Thursday after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged.

At 03:30 a.m. ET, Dow futures were up 26 points, implying a higher open by 19.14 points. Futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also pointed to a slightly higher open.

On Wednesday, the Fed said it will be “patient” with raising rates moving forward. In a statement, the central bank said: “The Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate.” The statement also dropped the word “gradual.”

The Fed addressed the balance sheet, which had been a concern for investors, in a separate statement. The Fed said it “is prepared to adjust any of the details for completing balance sheet normalization in light of economic and financial developments.”

Meanwhile, investors also monitored weak China data. On Thursday, China’s official data showed that manufacturing activity in January contracted for the second consecutive month.

Back in the U.S., weekly jobless claims and an employment cost index are due at 08:30 a.m. ET, a Chicago PMI is due at 9:45 a.m. ET and new home sales data at 10:00 a.m. ET.

On the earnings front, General Electric, Mastercard, UPS, Blackstone, Hershey and Sprint are among the companies reporting before the bell. Meanwhile, Amazon and Yum China are among the companies reporting after the bell.

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