August 17, 2016 / 12:42 PM / in 2 years

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat as investors await Fed minutes

* Fed to release July meeting minutes at 2:00 p.m. ET

* Target drops on profit forecast cut

* Urban Outfitters jumps on surprise rise in comparable sales

* Futures: Dow down 17 pts, S&P up 0.25 pts, Nasdaq up 5 pts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Aug 17 (Reuters) - Wall Street looked set to open 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, due at 2:00 p.m. ET, 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.

“There is a little bit of unwinding of the positions and some prudence and caution creeping into the markets, ahead of the Fed minutes,” said Larry Hatheway, chief economist at GAM Holding AG.

The dollar index snapped a three-day rout on Wednesday, rising 0.12 percent, as traders boosted their bets on a rate hike. The move pushed oil prices lower by nearly 1 percent.

Dow e-minis were down 17 points, or 0.09 percent at 8:25 a.m. ET (1225 GMT), with 13,144 contracts changing hands. S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 131,451 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 5 points, or 0.1 percent, on volume of 21,102 contracts.

Traders see an 18 percent chance of a hike in September, up from 9 percent before Dudley’s Tuesday comments, while the bets jumped to 42.8 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 dropped 5.6 percent premarket after the big-box retailer cut its full-year profit forecast.

Urban Outfitters jumped 12 percent 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 4.6 percent to $77.68 after the home improvement chain’s quarterly comparable sales missed estimates. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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