August 18, 2016 / 11:32 AM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as minutes show Fed divided over rate

* Futures: Dow up 4 pts, S&P down 05 pts, Nasdaq down 3.75 pts

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Aug 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday, a day after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s July meeting showed policymakers were divided over whether to raise interest rates in the near-term.

* Fed officials were generally upbeat about the U.S. economy but some expressed the need to keep their options open in the need of more data pointing to strength, the minutes showed.

* The dollar index, which got some respite before the release of the data on Wednesday, fell 0.27 percent as traders saw fewer chances of a hike.

* While traders have almost completely ruled out a hike in September, they have priced in a 41.7 percent chance for a move in December - down from 45.1 percent on Wednesday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

* Dow component Wal-Mart rose 3.3 percent to $75.34 premarket after the retailer posted better-than-expected quarterly profit.

* New York Fed President William Dudley, who on Tuesday unnerved the markets by saying a rate hike was possible in September, is scheduled to give a press briefing at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).

* San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks on economic outlook in Anchorage, Alaska at 4:00 p.m. ET.

* Investors will also keep an eye out for a report on initial jobless claims, which likely slipped by 1,000 to 265,000 last week. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

* Brent crude hovered near $50 a barrel for the first time in six weeks after major producers prepared to discuss a possible freeze in output. U.S. crude was trading near $47.

* Twitter fell 2.6 percent to $19.64 after Evercore downgraded its stock to “sell” from “hold”.

* Drug developer Portola plunged 18.5 percent to $19.27 after an investigational drug failed to get approval from U.S regulators.

* Cisco was off 1.7 percent at $30.20 in light trading, after the company reported a 1.6 percent drop in revenue and said it would cut jobs.

Futures snapshot at 7:04 a.m. ET:

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.5 points, or 0.02 percent, with 96,711 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 3.75 points, or 0.08 percent, on volume of 15,271 contracts.

* Dow e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.02 percent, with 12,477 contracts changing hands. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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