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Wall Street set to open flat ahead of Fed minutes

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

U.S. stocks looked set to open little changed on Wednesday as investors awaited the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting for clues on the timing of the next interest rate hike.

The Fed will release the minutes of its Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT).

Policymakers, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen, have been hinting at the possibility of a rate hike sooner than later. But traders have priced in slim chances of a move until June, even with the backdrop of strong economic data.

The odds of a rate hike stand at 22 percent for March, 47 percent for May and 69 percent for June, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“The market has priced in rate hikes and is welcoming it,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey. “But the one thing that could derail it is if it comes all of a sudden.”

Also on investors’ minds is how the Fed views uncertainty regarding economic policy under President Donald Trump.

Trump’s promises of tax and regulatory reforms as well as fiscal stimulus have boosted investors’ confidence, helping send Wall Street to record highs.

Wall Street’s main indexes hit record intraday highs on Tuesday, the seventh for the S&P 500 in eight sessions, helped by strong results from top U.S. retailers including Wal-Mart.

“Right now the stock market is the game in town,” Bakhos said.

Dow e-minis 1YMc1 remained unchanged at 8:31 a.m. ET, with 22,720 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were down 2.25 points, or 0.1 percent, with 146,855 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were down 0.5 points, or 0.01 percent, on volume of 22,950 contracts.

Among stocks, Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT.O) slumped 11 percent in premarket trading after the drugmaker announced a $75 million public offering.

UPS (UPS.N) slipped 1.4 percent to $106.25 after Morgan Stanley cut its price target on the package delivery company’s stock.

Dish Network (DISH.O) edged up 1 percent to $63.50 after the satellite T.V. provider reported a higher-than-expected profit.

Tesla (TSLA.O) and HP Inc (HPQ.N) are some of the key companies scheduled to report results on Wednesday.

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


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