* Futures down: Dow 21 pts, S&P 3.25 pts, Nasdaq 16 pts
By Sruthi Shankar
Aug 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were lower on Thursday, a day after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting showed policymakers appeared wary about weak inflation, muddying the path of future interest rate hikes.
* Indexes closed off their highs on Wednesday following the disbanding of two business councils by President Donald Trump after several chief executives quit in protest over his remarks on white nationalists.
* Weak inflation has spurred concerns the Fed may have to cool its monetary tightening pace even though the economy is growing moderately and the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in July, matching a 16-year low touched in May.
* The central bank was also poised to begin reducing its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.
* Officials have been priming markets for a probable move at their next policy meeting on Sept. 19 and 20. New York Fed President William Dudley said earlier the expectation of such an announcement next month was not unreasonable.
* Investors will also be focusing on Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Minneapolis head Neel Kashkari, who are speaking at different events later in the day. Kaplan, a centrist voter on policy this year, will discuss how much inflation weakness he is willing to tolerate before putting additional rate-hike plans on hold.
* Economic data on Thursday include initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 12, which is expected to show the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 240,000. The report is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).
* The Fed is expected to report that industrial production rose 0.3 percent in July after rising 0.4 percent in June.
* Shares of Wal-Mart were down more than 2 percent in premarket trading, despite reporting 12th consecutive quarterly rise in comparable sales.
* Alibaba was up more than 5 percent after it reported quarterly revenue above estimates.
* Cisco was off more than 3 percent following the company’s quarterly revenue miss in its closely-watched security business.
Futures snapshot at 7:00 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were down 21 points, or 0.1 percent, with 13,322 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were down 3.25 points, or 0.13 percent, with 95,698 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 16 points, or 0.27 percent, on volume of 21,431 contracts. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)