Stock Market Today: Futures Slip as Markets Await More Fed Clarity

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Geopolitics have been shoved to the backburner with the spotlight for U.S. investors now on Federal Reserve Chief Janet Yellen and the U.S. central bank.

Stock index futures were dipping slightly Wednesday following the sharp run-up of the last two sessions, with investors ready to look for clues on the timeline of the Federal Reserve's next move toward policy normalization.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were ticking down 17 points, or 24.59 points below fair value, to 16,864. S&P 500 futures were off 2.75 points, or 4.10 points below fair value, to 1,974.5, while Nasdaq futures were slipping 1.8 points, or 6.73 points below fair value, to 4,032.5.

"Developed markets likely will suffer some indigestion given how quickly oversold indicators reversed the last two days," said Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist and co-portfolio manager at Pension Partners.

U.S. stocks stretched out early gains to the close on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 rising to just a hair's breadth away from its July 24 record close as investors awaited clues from the U.S. central bank and processed a mild read on U.S. inflation and a jump in housing starts. The VIX Volatility Index was down near its August lows and risk-on sectors caught some of the highest bids.

The Fed will release the minutes of its July 29-30 meeting at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, preceding the annual symposium of global central bankers that will carry on for the rest of this week. A key question that the minutes might answer is whether Yellen faced increased pressure from the more hawkish officials to begin raising interest rates shortly after QE wraps up in October vs. the more dovish officials who are not worried about "falling behind the curve" amid concerns over continued labor market slack and a lack of wage growth.

In top corporate headlines Wednesday, Target (TGT) shares were giving up 1.69% to $58.25 in premarket trading after missing second-quarter earnings expectations by a penny at 78 cents a share. The company slashed its full-year profit outlook yet again as the retailer has yet to fully emerge from its data breach that impacted 70 million customers and while it continues to face slower store traffic.

Allergan (AGN) approached Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP) and at least one other company about a potential acquisition, as the Botox maker seeks to fend off a $53 billion hostile takeover from Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) , The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Salix shares were down 1.43% in to $158.50.

Citigroup (C) is considering selling its consumer-banking business in Japan, two people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. Shares were incrementally lower to $49.62.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is expected by Wall Street on Wednesday to report fiscal third-quarter earnings of 89 cents a share on revenue of $27 billion. HP reports after the close of trading on Wednesday. The stock was trading up 0.39% to $35.62.

--By Andrea Tse in New York

Follow @AndreaTTse

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