Wednesday August 15th


Wall Street set for a higher open as investors look to Fed minutes

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a positive open on Wednesday, as investors shifted their attention to the upcoming FOMC minutes. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 48 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite futures advanced 4.75 points and 14.25 points, respectively. While a new batch of economic data is set to be released on Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes for the U.S. central bank's July meeting are set to take center stage during trade. Set to come out at 2 p.m. ET, investors will pore through the meeting's minutes to see what the Federal Reserve currently thinks about the state of the U.S. economy, and where their strategy could be heading. According to the CME Group's FedWatch tool, chances for a rate hike in December were about 45 percent. Some investors remain skeptical about another rate hike coming this year given the recent weak inflation data. Inflation is a key component used by the Federal Reserve to determine their course of monetary policy. Aside from the Fed, housing starts for July totaled 1.155 million, well below the expected 1.22 million. Mortgage applications rose just 0.1 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. In financial news, Tencent Holdings and Target are some of the companies that reported quarterly earnings before the bell. On the commodities front, oil prices posted slight gains on Wednesday, supported by a drop in U.S. crude inventories, yet oversupply concerns continue to weigh on sentiment. At 8:35 a.m. ET, U.S. crude hovered around $47.68 per barrel, while Brent stood around $51.01. In Europe, stocks were trading higher, while Asia markets finished trade on a mostly positive note. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged down 0.12 percent, or 24.03 points, to close at 19,729.28. Gains in most tech stocks offset by losses in auto, trading houses and retail names. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.60 percent, or 14.04 points, to end at 2,348.26 as markets returned from a public holiday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.72 percent by 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN, but mainland markets were a mixed picture. The Shanghai Composite shed 0.14 percent, or 4.6372 points, to close at 3,246.6245 while the Shenzhen Composite climbed 0.588 percent, or 11.1032 points, to finish at 1,898.3865. Gold prices tread lower on Wednesday as the dollar steadied, with investors awaiting minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last meeting in July for clues on the pace of potential interest rate hikes. Spot gold had slipped 0.08 percent to $1,270.41 per ounce, following two sessions of falls. U.S. gold futures for December delivery were down about 0.3 percent at $1,275.90 an ounce.