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Stock Futures Point to Mixed Open


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were trading mixed Wednesday as investors awaited the minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting for more insight on the central bank's views about additional quantitative easing

The early economic data was fairly nondescript as the Commerce Department reported a roughly in-line trade deficit number for May.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 29 points, or 23.88 points above fair value, at 12,614. Futures for the S&P 500 were up by 2.4 points, or 1.58 points above fair value, at 1338. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 were up 1.25 points, or 0.32 points below fair value, at 2579.

"The Fed has chosen to undertake further Operation Twist purchases of bonds, which are by definition sterilized (the action does not increase the size of the Fed's balance sheet), so discussions of the merits of quantitative policy in light of that decision may be interesting," said Paul Donavan, global economist at UBS.

Goldman Sachs economists say they will particularly interested in how many FOMC members expect further eventual easing, and in what form; how close the committee was to either doing more or less than Operation Twist 2 at the June meeting; how much discussion there was of qualitative changes in the forward guidance; and how much more negative the Fed staff has become about the economic outlook.

The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's June 20 meeting are slated for release at 2 p.m. ET.

Stocks finished in the red Tuesday, pulled lower by earnings worries springing from technology sector and continued apprehension about Europe's debt crisis after optimism about a rescue plan for Spain proved short-lived.

The Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit shrank to $48.7 billion in May, from a slightly upwardly revised $50.6 billion in April, which was roughly in line with expectations of $48.5 billion, according to a survey of economists by Thomson Reuters. May exports were $0.4 billion more than April exports of $182.7 billion. May imports were $1.6 billion less than April imports of $233.3 billion.

The April to May increase in exports of goods reflected increases in foods, feeds, and beverages and capital goods. The April to May decrease in imports of goods reflected decreases in industrial supplies and materials; consumer goods; and foods, feeds, and beverages.

At 10 a.m. EDT, the Commerce Department is predicted to report that wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in May after increasing 0.6% in April.

The FTSE in London was falling 0.22% but paring losses and the DAX in Germany was rising 0.15% as Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy spoke of more austerity measures to help fulfill budget goals.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Stock index closed up 0.12% and the Nikkei finished flat.

August crude oil futures were rising 77 cents to $84.68 a barrel. August gold futures were falling $3.80 to $1,576 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 4/32, pushing the yield to 1.52%, while the dollar was falling 0.22%, according to the dollar index.

In corporate headlines, UBS initiated coverage of Apple (AAPL - Get Report) with a buy rating and a 12-month price target of $740, saying it sees the release of the iPhone 5 as another positive catalyst for the stock, which it views as being reasonably priced.

UBS said it believes long-term earnings per share could top $70 vs. the current consensus estimate for a profit of $48.84 in fiscal 2012.

As for near-term earnings, UBS does see some potential bumps in the road.

Shares were down 0.27% in premarket trading Wednesday.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) is planning to follow through on CEO Jamie Dimon's threats to claw back stock compensation from the employees responsible for the disastrous trade in the Dow component's synthetic credit portfolio that's led to at least $2 billion in losses, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Shares were up 0.53%.

VOXX International (VOXX) reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of $9 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $194 million after Tuesday's closing bell. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit of 10 cents a share in the May-ended period on revenue of $207.8 million.

Shares were tumbling more than 12%.

hhgregg (HGG) joined the warning parade after Tuesday's closing bell, saying it now expects earnings of 90 cents to $1.05 a share in its fiscal year ending in March 2013. The Indianapolis-based consumer electronics and appliance retailer had previously forecast a profit of $1.12 to $1.27 a share for the year, and Wall Street's current consensus view is for earnings of $1.20 a share.

Shares were tanking by more than 26.5%.


-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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