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Wall Street set to open near record highs on oil rally

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors digested the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting, which pointed to an interest rate hike “fairly soon”.

Still, policymakers did not appear to show a sense of urgency in raising rates as inflation remained below the long-term target of 2 percent, effectively taking a rate hike in March off the table.

Traders have priced in a mere 22 percent chance of a move next month, with the odds jumping to 52 percent for a hike in May and 70 percent for June, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Fed members also expressed concerns about the uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s policies, such as tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks, and the effect they could have on the economy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that tax reforms were the government’s top priority and that he wanted to get the reform done by the August recess.

Earnings and headline news have boosted the so-called “Trump trade” in the past few weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average marked its ninth straight record close on Wednesday, helped by gains in DuPont (DD.N).

Oil prices rose 1.4 percent on Thursday reports of a drop in U.S. inventories.

Among data that could draw attention is jobless claims numbers, which are estimated to have risen slightly last week. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT).

Shares of Tesla (TSLA.O) rose 2 percent to $279.20 in premarket trading after the electric car maker posted a smaller quarterly net loss and said its mass-market Model 3 sedan was on track for volume production by September.

L Brands (LB.N) dropped nearly 13 percent to $50.61 after reporting weakening demand at its Victoria’s Secret business. Kohl’s (KSS.N) rose 3.16 percent to $43.10 after the department store operator’s profit beat expectations.

Nvidia (NVDA.O) slipped 4.4 percent to $105.88 after Instinet downgraded the chipmaker’s stock to “reduce” from “buy”.

Futures snapshot at 7:00 a.m. ET:

Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 13 points, or 0.06 percent, with 14,667 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 1 point, or 0.04 percent, with 71,185 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 2.25 points, or 0.04 percent, on volume of 14,803 contracts.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)