US stock futures drift lower ahead of Fed minutes, housing data

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US stock-index futures ticked slightly lower on Wednesday, suggesting equities may slip from record highs at the open, as investors await minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting a batch of data on the housing market.

About two hours before the opening bell on Wall Street, S&P 500 futures dipped 0.2 per cent to 2,356, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures declined by 0.1 per cent to 20,676 and Nasdaq 100 futures were off by 0.1 per cent to 5,339.

US stocks have steadily advanced to fresh record peaks this year in trading that has been marked by historically low volatility and growing optimism over the global economic outlook.

Richard Turnill, chief investment strategist at BlackRock, noted on Wednesday that “global earnings are collectively posting some of their best performance since the end of the financial crisis”.

Underscoring that sentiment, Toll Brothers, a luxury homebuilder, posted better-than-expected quarterly results and said it sees “strong demand” with upmarket US consumers getting a boost from a buoyant stock market and stronger wage growth.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is poised to release minutes from its last policy-setting meeting. Investors will be looking for any clues on whether the central bank plans to add to its December rate rise next month. Futures markets peg the odds of an increase at just over one-in-three, according to Bloomberg data.

There is also a batch of data on sales of previously-owned US homes on the docket.

In commodities, US oil slipped by 0.5 per cent to $54.05 a barrel after notching its highest settle of 2017 in the previous trading session. The US dollar was higher by 0.3 per cent against a basket of half a dozen global currencies.

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