US STOCKS-Futures flat ahead of Fed minutes
* Futures down: Dow 17 pts, S&P 0.75 pts, Nasdaq 0.5 pts
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Aug 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors held off from making big bets ahead of the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's July policy meeting.
* The Fed left interest rates unchanged at its meeting last month but said near-term risks to the economy had diminished, leaving the door open for a possible rate hike this year.
* Investors will parse the minutes of the meeting for hints about when the Fed could next raise rates, especially in light of New York Fed President William Dudley's hawkish comments on Tuesday.
* Dudley, a permanent voting member and a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, said a rate hike as soon as September was possible given evidence of wage gains and a tighter labor market.
* The dollar index snapped a three-day rout on Wednesday, rising 0.17 percent, as traders boosted their bets on a rate hike. The move pushed oil prices lower by nearly 1 percent.
* Traders see a 15 percent chance of a hike in September, up from 9 percent before Dudley's Tuesday comments, while the bets jumped to 45.1 percent from 37.4 percent for December, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.
* Wall Street has been trading at record highs in the past few weeks, supported by better-than-expected corporate earnings and expectations of the Fed keeping rates low. Continuación...