NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Let the Federal Reserve talks begin. Stock futures slipped on Tuesday ahead of the start of the Fed's two-day meeting and after a rally a day earlier in which the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 1%.
S&P 500 futures slid 0.24% on Tuesday, Dow futures dropped 0.26%, and Nasdaq futures was flat.
Stocks have been highly volatile over the past week as Wall Street focused on whether the Fed might remove its "patient" language from its statement, a move that would set into action a possible rate hike later this year. A statement from the Fed is expected Wednesday afternoon.
Housing starts tumbled 17% in February to 897,000, the lowest level in 13 months and the first time starts were under 1 million since August. Economists had expected 1.05 million starts over the month.
"This is yet another economic miss in a long string of misses and while the weather is an excuse unlikely to placate many, it should work for some," said BTIG chief strategist Dan Greenhaus. "A weak first quarter is now a virtual guarantee as yet another cold winter is dampening activity."
Crude oil was also pressuring markets as West Texas Intermediate dropped 2.5% to under $43 a barrel. The commodity is on track for its sixth straight day of losses in the face of oversupply, weaker global demand, a potential storage crisis in the U.S., and as the U.S. dollar hovers near 12-year highs.
Japan's Nikkei closed 1% higher on Tuesday after the Bank of Japan confirmed it would maintain its 80 trillion yen stimulus program. The Shanghai Composite in China extended its rally into a second day, closing 1.6% higher, after Premier Li Keqiang pledged to introduce reforms so China can hit its GDP growth forecast of 7% this year.
European markets pulled back from Monday's surge with Germany's DAX down 1.3% and France's CAC 40 falling 0.9%. A second reading of February consumer inflation confirmed prices fell 0.3% in the eurozone. Investor confidence in Germany showed its fifth straight increase in March to a 13-month high of 54.8, according to the ZEW economic institute.
Apple (AAPL) edged higher in premarket trading on reports the tech giant could announce a Web TV offering as early as June, according to The Wall Street Journal. The service would feature channels such as ABC, CBS and Fox and would reportedly launch in September.
DSW (DSW) surged 5.3% after reporting a 7% increase in comparable-store sales over its fourth quarter. The footwear retailer reported earnings of 35 cents a share, 7 cents better than forecast, while sales spiked nearly 12%.
Retail fund Macerich (MAC) reportedly has rejected a $16 billion bid from shopping-mall real estate company Simon Property (SPG), according to the Journal. Macerich dropped 2.6% and Simon Property was unchanged.
Plug Power (PLUG) shares tumbled 9.5% in premarket trading after the fuel cell maker reported a wider-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter.