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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Advance as Investors Await Fed Meeting

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures advanced, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped to its lowest level in more than a month, as the Federal Reserve starts a two- day policy meeting.

Comcast Corp. climbed 3.3 percent in Germany after people familiar with the matter said the cable company is near a deal to buy assets from Charter Communications Inc. Apple Inc. tumbled 6.6 percent in early New York trading after reporting that iPhone sales trailed analysts’ estimates. Seagate Technology Plc fell 6.5 percent after posting quarterly results that missed projections.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in March rose 0.5 percent to 1,784.70 at 10:59 a.m. in London. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts climbed 86 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,873.

“I think the Fed will reiterate that any tapering remains data-dependent and that it won’t aggressively move towards tightening,” Patrick Spencer, head of equity sales at Robert W. Baird & Co. in London, said in a phone interview. “I’m not too concerned about the dip in the markets over the last few days.”

The S&P 500 lost 3.4 percent in the three days through yesterday, the most since June, with emerging-market currencies sinking amid signs China’s economy is slowing.

FOMC Meeting

The Federal Open Market Committee will start its last meeting under Chairman Ben S. Bernanke today. Policy makers said in December that the central bank would begin to pare the pace of its monthly bond buying by $10 billion to $75 billion this month. The Fed will cut purchases by $10 billion at each of the next six FOMC meetings, according to economists in a Bloomberg News survey conducted Jan. 10.

A report at 8:30 a.m. in Washington may show that durable- goods orders in the world’s biggest economy increased 1.8 percent in December, following a revised 3.4 percent gain in November, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Another release at 10 a.m. New York time may show the Conference Board’s consumer-confidence index fell to 78 this month from 78.1 in December, the forecasts show. Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose 13.8 percent in November from a year ago, the S&P/Case-Shiller index may show. They climbed 13.6 percent the previous month.

Earnings Season

AT&T Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Pfizer Inc. are among S&P 500 companies reporting quarterly results today. Almost 73 percent of those that have posted earnings this season beat analysts’ projections. Profit at S&P 500 companies probably rose 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, and sales increased 2.3 percent, analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.

Comcast advanced 3.3 percent to $54.22 in German trading. The company may buy Charter’s cable assets in New York City, North Carolina and New England, people familiar with the matter said. The sale is contingent upon shareholders approving Charter’s takeover bid for Time Warner Cable Inc., they said. Charter has offered $132.50 a share for Time Warner Cable, a proposal the New York-based company has called “grossly inadequate.” Comcast also reports quarterly results today.

Apple slid 6.6 percent to $514.24 in early U.S. trading after saying it sold 51 million iPhones in the quarter ended Dec. 28, missing analysts’ estimates for 54.7 million handsets. Apple said it expects revenue in the current quarter of $42 billion to $44 billion, trailing analysts’ projections for $46.1 billion.

Seagate dropped 6.5 percent to $54.30 in New York after reporting second-quarter earnings of $1.32 a share excluding some items, missing the average analyst estimate of $1.39. The maker of disk drives posted sales of $3.53 billion, compared with the projected $3.56 billion.

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