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US STOCKS-Futures up as investors await Fed meeting

* Futures up: Dow 56 pts, S&P 7.25 pts, Nasdaq 16.75 pts

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Sept 20 U.S. stock index futures were higher as investors saw little room for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in a two-day policy meeting starting Tuesday.

* The meeting will conclude with Fed Chair Janet Yellen's press conference at 2:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

* Bank of Japan's two-day meeting also starts on Tuesday. Investors have little clue of what path the central bank could take to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.

* The doves in the Fed are most likely to rule over the hawks who support higher rates in the near term, but investors are looking for their comments for clues about a likely hike in December.

* Recent data that pointed to a slowdown in job growth and weak retail sales has led traders to price in a mere 12 percent chance for a rate hike by Wednesday.

* Wall Street whipsawed on Monday as a decline in Apple rubbed the shine from gains in big banks.

* The dollar index and the yen were trading little changed on Tuesday, while gold prices rose slightly.

* Data on tap is a report on U.S. housing starts, which likely fell in August after two months of gains. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

* Shares of Lennar were up 2.75 percent at $46.33 in light premarket trading after the homebuilder reported higher-than-expected profit and revenue for the third quarter.

* SeaWorld fell 6.3 percent to $11.89 after the marine park operator slashed its quarterly dividend and said it would suspend future payments.

* Sarepta Therapeutics rose 4.8 percent to $51.30 after Cowen & Co upgraded the drugmaker's stock to "outperform".

Futures snapshot at 6:56 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 56 points, or 0.31 percent, with 15,101 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.25 points, or 0.34 percent, with 114,149 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 16.75 points, or 0.35 percent, on volume of 18,466 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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