8-21-13 9:05 AM EDT | Email Article

By Kate Gibson and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch


NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures fell on Wednesday as investors waited for U.S. Federal Reserve minutes, which could shed light on when the central bank might begin slowing its bond purchases.


Lowe's Cos shares rose in premarket after upbeat results, while Staples Inc. shares sank after the group missed its forecasts and cut its outlook. Still to come is a reading on existing-home sales.


Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJU3) fell 28 points to 14,957, while those for the S&P 500 index (SPU3) lost 3.1 points to 1,647.50. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDU3) lost 5.25 points to 3,075.75.


On the economic front, July existing-home sales data are due for release at 10 a.m. Eastern. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect sales of existing homes rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.21 million, from a rate of 5.08 million in June. See preview.


The minutes of July's Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting will be released at 2 p.m. Eastern. Investors will look for any clues as to when the Fed is thinking of cutting the pace of its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program. Many expect that tapering could being in September. Read: What to expect from the July Fed minutes


"I think the best we can hope for is to get an indication about what the numbers were like in terms of the voting in July and whether any of the more dovish members were coming around to the idea of tapering in September," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari (UK) Ltd., in emailed comments.


But that does not look set to happen, he added. "We've heard from a number of Fed members since the meeting and the camp seems split pretty evenly on the matter, which again, to me, suggests tapering in September is unlikely," Erlam said.


U.S. stocks mostly rose on Tuesday, helped by upbeat retailer results. The S&P 500 index (SPX) climbed 6.29 points, or 0.4%, to close at 1,652.35, halting its longest losing streak this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) ended at 15,002.99, down 7.75 points, or 0.1%, extending its losing streak to five sessions.


Retailers are making up a chunk of the corporate focus for Wednesday. Lowe's (LOW) posted a 26% rise in profit, beating Wall Street forecasts, and lifted its full-year view. Shares rose 4.6% in premarket trading.


Staples (SPLS) said its second-quarter earnings fell 15% and reported lower sales due to weak sales overseas, and it cut its annual view. Shares dropped 11% in premarket trading.


Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL) said fiscal third-quarter profit fell 24% as it posted a tax expense, but said sales rose. Shares inched down 1.1% in premarket.


"We believe the recovery is real, and we are in the early stages of the rebound," said Toll Chief Executive Douglas C. Yearley Jr. in a statement.


Target Corp.(TGT) reported second-quarter earnings of 95 cents a share, just missing a forecast of 96 cents. Stripping out dilution from its Canada segment, profit was $1.19 a share. Shares eased 1.8% in premarket.


In overseas markets, European stocks were largely under pressure as investors looked ahead to the Fed minutes. In Asia it was a mix, with Hong Kong shares among those that fell, while Japan shares rose after a choppy trading session, and Indonesian shares rebounded from a string of recent falls.


Gold prices extended losses, while oil also pushed lower as the dollar moved higher.

-Kate Gibson; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-21-13 0905ET

Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Copyright 2014 MarketWatch
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