August 17, 2016 / 11:27 AM / 2 years ago

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.

* The three indexes ended lower on Tuesday after Dudley’s comments.

* St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is scheduled to speak at a conference at 1:00 p.m. ET (1700 GMT). No major economic data is expected on Wednesday.

* Target’s shares fell 2 percent in light premarket trading after the big-box retailer’s quarterly profit dropped nearly 10 percent.

* Urban Outfitter jumped 12.04 percent to $35 after the apparel maker posted a surprise rise in comparable sales, attracting a host of brokerages to raise price targets. The stock was the top percentage gainer among S&P 500 components.

* Lowe’s shares fell 5.5 percent to $77.03 after the home improvement chain’s quarterly comparable sales missed estimates.

Futures snapshot at 6:56 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 17 points, or 0.09 percent, with 13,144 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.75 points, or 0.03 percent, with 102,452 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.5 points, or 0.01 percent, on volume of 16,223 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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