* Fed minutes scheduled to be released at 2 p.m. ET
* Lowe’s and Tiffany drop after disappointing results
* Nvidia up on report of SoftBank holding $4 bln stake
* Indexes up: Dow 0.05 pct, S&P 0.05 pct, Nasdaq 0.10 pct (Updates to open)
By Tanya Agrawal
May 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed in early trading on Wednesday as investors awaited Federal Reserve minutes of its May meeting that could cement the chances of a rate hike next month.
Fed funds futures show that traders now see a 75 percent chance that the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates in June. The minutes will be released at 2 p.m. ET (1600 GMT).
Investors are also awaiting more details regarding the Fed trimming its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.
“Our U.S. economists expect the minutes to come down on the hawkish side and continue to expect the Fed to hike in June and September and announce balance sheet reduction in December,” Citi analysts wrote on Wednesday.
While recent economic data has been mixed, with signs of a dip in consumer sentiment and spending, the job market continues to strengthen. That could give the Fed impetus to continue with its path of monetary tightening.
The tightening labor market and historically low mortgage rates have helped the housing market recovery. Amid a raft of housing data due is a report that is expected to show existing home sales fell in April, compared with March.
At 9:40 a.m. ET (1340 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 4.52 points, or 0.02 percent, at 20,942.43, the S&P 500 was up 1.28 points, or 0.05 percent, at 2,399.7 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 6.17 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,144.88.
Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by the utilities index’s 0.49 percent rise.
The laggard again was the consumer staples index, down 0.2 percent after a weak report from Lowe’s, the No. 2 U.S. home improvement chain.
Lowe’s fell 3.6 percent to $79.36 and was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 after it reported a lower-than-expected profit and comparable sales.
Bigger rival Home Depot was off 0.5 percent, weighing the most on the Dow.
Jewelry retailer Tiffany fell 7.1 percent to $86.54 after posting a surprise drop in comparable sales.
Intuit jumped 7.6 percent, the most on the S&P 500, after raising its revenue forecast.
Nvidia rose 2.3 percent to $140.25 on a report that SoftBank has built a $4 billion stake in the chipmaker.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,464 to 1,037. On the Nasdaq, 1,165 issues rose and 1,046 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 22 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 36 new highs and 21 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever in London; Editing by Savio D’Souza)