Stock futures held close to the flatline on Wednesday, Sept. 20, with investors given little impetus to move higher until the Federal Reserve announces policy decisions on interest rates and its balance sheet. 

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 0.02%, S&P 500 futures added 0.02%, and Nasdaq futures were flat. All benchmark indexes closed at records a day earlier -- the Dow for the sixth day in a row and the S&P 500 for its third. 

The Federal Open Market Committee, the decision-making arm of the Fed, will wrap up its meeting on Wednesday afternoon after talking policy for two days. A policy announcement is expected at 2 p.m. ET and a press conference from Chair Janet Yellen is expected shortly after.  

Investors are fairly certain in what they expect out of the Fed, but need the confirmation. Markets have priced in a zero chance of change to U.S. interest rates, but near-certainty to the Fed beginning to unwind its $4.5 trillion balance sheet. The latter creates the same kind of tightening conditions as a rate hike. 

"If the signals are right, then this week should mark the point when the ... Fed finally begins the long-overdue process of unwinding its bloated balance sheet," said Aberdeen Standard Investments investment manager James Athey. "That would make it a milestone in the post-crisis monetary experiment."

Fed funds futures are currently pricing in a nearly 61% chance of a 25-basis-point increase at the December meeting of the Fed, putting the federal funds rate at 1.25% to 1.5%.

Outside of the Fed announcement, the economic calendar on Wednesday is fairly quiet. Existing home sales for August will be released at 10 a.m.

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Crude oil prices recaptured a level above $50 ahead of a weekly reading on domestic inventories. The Energy Information Administration's petroleum status report is set for a 10:30 a.m. release, as normal. The previous two weeks have shown a large increase in stockpiles as Hurricane Harvey crippled refinery production in the Texas and Louisiana region.

West Texas Intermediate crude was up 1.2% to $50.08 a barrel on Wednesday morning.

The death toll following a massive earthquake in central Mexico continued to climb. Rescuers searched for survivors of Mexico's deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities stood at 217, according to the Associated Press. The magnitude-7.1 quake on Tuesday struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. 

In more weather-related devastation, Puerto Rico was bracing for Hurricane Maria landfall, just days after Hurricane Irma caused severe destruction. The Category 4 storm was downgraded, though it's still expected to bring winds of up to 155 mph and cause more damage than Irma. 

Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) fell 2.8% in premarket trading even after fiscal third-quarter earnings from the software company topped Wall Street estimates. Net income in the quarter was 84 cents a share, up from 54 cents a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $1.10 a share, topping forecasts of $1.01. Revenue rose to $1.84 billion; analysts expected $1.82 billion.

FedEx Corp. (FDX)  slid 1.4% in premarket trading after the shipping giant posted fiscal first-quarter earnings below analysts' expectations, blaming the miss on a cyber attack at TNT Express and Hurricane Harvey. Adjusted first-quarter earnings for FedEx were $2.51 a share, below Wall Street estimates of $3.09. The company also lowered its adjusted earnings forecast for fiscal 2018.

Shares of General Mills Inc. (GIS)  fell 5% in premarket trading after the maker of Cheerios posted fiscal first-quarter profit and sales that missed expectations.

Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY) tumbled 15% before the bell after a disappointing quarter. Second-quarter profit slumped to 67 cents a share from $1.11 a share a year earlier, coming in well below targets of 93 cents. Sales of $2.99 billion missed estimates of $3 billion. The homewares retailer said restructuring charges, a new method of accounting, and the impact of Hurricane Harvey had impacted the bottom line. 

Ford Motor Co. (F)  fell more than 1% in premarket trading after announcing plans to trim production at five North American assembly plants through the rest of 2017 as demand for new vehicles in the U.S. slips because of lower gas prices.

Ford plans a two-week shutdown at its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, which makes the Mustang and Lincoln Continental, and a one-week shutdown at its Michigan Assembly Plant, which makes the Focus and C-Max small cars. The automaker also plans to idle Transit van production at its Kansas City, Missouri, plant for two weeks. The company also plans shutdowns of up to three weeks at two plants in Mexico.

U.S. sales at Ford have declined 4% through August compared with the same period a year ago.

3M Co. (MMM) declined after JPMorgan cut its rating to underweight from neutral, though raised a price target to $201 from $185. Analyst Stephen Tusa said the risks tied to slowing demand in auto and electronics should undercut a recent rally. In a note, he said "We see a negative skew on the risk reward, with potential downside catalysts including negative consensus revisions and stubbornly weak U.S. price performance which would reinforce concerns around channel disruption."

Updated from 8:03 a.m. ET, Sept. 20. 

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