US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq to open near record highs with Fed meeting in focus

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  * U.S. retail sales fall in May 

  * Ocugen jumps on partnership for U.S. production of vaccine 

  * Fed kicks off two-day policy meeting 

  * Futures: Dow and S&P up 0.1%, Nasdaq rises 0.1% (Adds comment, updates prices) 

  By Shashank Nayar and Medha Singh 

  June 15 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were set to open near record highs on Tuesday as investors awaited cues from the Federal Reserve this week about whether a recent jump in inflation would prompt a sooner-than-expected tapering in monetary policy. 

  Assurance from the Fed that rising prices, coupled with falling U.S. Treasury yields, are transitory have helped ease some concerns over inflation with all eyes turning to the central bank's statement at the end of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. 

  The benchmark S&P 500, the blue-chip Dow Jones and the tech-stocks focused Nasdaq have gained 13.3%, 12.3% and 10%, respectively so far this year, largely driven by optimism about an economic reopening. 

  "If the Fed can convey to the market that they are going to continue to be patient and that they are not overly concerned about inflation, that continues to be a very solid set up for the equity markets," said Larry Adam, chief investment officer of Raymond James. 

  "The big thing that people are going to focus on are the new projections, particularly on inflation." 

  The Fed is likely to announce in August or September a strategy for reducing its massive bond buying program, but won't start cutting monthly purchases until early next year, a Reuters poll of economists found. 

  At 08:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 17 points, or 0.05%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.09%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 10 points, or 0.07%. 

  In a new policy statement and economic projections due on Wednesday, the U.S. central bank is expected to point to continued strength in the economy and acknowledge the first conversations among its policymakers about when and how fast to pare back the massive bond-buying program. 

  Latest data showed U.S. retail sales fell more than expected in May, with spending rotating back to services from goods, as vaccinations allow Americans to travel and engage in other activities that had been restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  In corporate news, Biogen Inc dipped 0.3% in premarket trading after the drugmaker's potential therapy for choroideremia, an inherited disease that leads to vision loss, did not meet the main goal in a late-stage study. 

  Drug developer Ocugen jumped nearly 20% as it prepares for potential commercial manufacturing of the Covaxin for the U.S. and Canadian markets. 

  Halliburton Co, Occidental Petroleum Corp and Exxon Mobil added between 0.8% and 1.7% as oil prices hit multi-year highs on positive demand outlook. (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel) 

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