Stock Market Today: Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Fed Minutes; Alcoa Advances

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were looking up Wednesday after aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) kicked off the second-quarter earnings season with better-than-expected results. The markets were also awaiting the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting. 

Alcoa was advancing 2.02% in premarket trading after posting second-quarter earnings that topped analysts' estimates.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 3 points, or 32.38 points above fair value, to 16,863. S&P 500 futures were rising 1.25 points, or 4.79 points above fair value, to 1,961.75. Nasdaq futures were up 3.2 points, or 10.33 points above fair value, to 3,866.5.

Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's June 17 to June 18 meeting will be issued at 2 p.m. EDT. Market participants will be parsing the minutes for any discussion of policy exit strategies and potentially, approaches at improving communication to the markets.

Eric Green, head of U.S. rates and economic research at TD Securities, urged investors not to get caught up in the speculation that a rate hike will take place as soon as in the first half of 2015.

"The Fed cannot afford to get this exit strategy wrong," Green noted.

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European Stocks Slide Ahead of Fed Minutes

Stock Market Today: Dow Slips Below 17,000 Mark With Little to Re-Energize Rally

European stock indices were drifting down as investors hoped that minutes of the last Fed rate-setting meeting will ease recent nervousness.

Other companies in focus Wednesday include Apple (AAPL), AbbVie (ABBV) and Shire (SHPG).

A Beijing court ruled against Apple by upholding the validity of a patent held by a Chinese company, clearing the way for the Chinese company to continue its own case against Apple for infringing intellectual property rights, Reuters reported. AbbVie on Tuesday made its fourth offer for Irish drugmaker Shire, this time raising the bid by 11% to about 30.1 billion pounds ($51.5 billion). 

The Dow tumbled below the 17,000 psychological threshold Tuesday with little market-moving news to sustain the rally that swept benchmark indices to record highs last week.

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

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