NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures turned slightly lower as housing starts unexpectedly fell in October, and as investors awaited the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's October meeting.
Investors will be focused on what the Fed might reveal in its notes from the Oct. 28-29 meeting, particularly discussions around the end of the central bank's bond-buying program and hints as to where members stand on when to raise interest rates.
Housing starts were down down 2.8% to 1.01 million last month, compared to an expected 6.8% jump. However, the annual pace of permits rose 4.8% to 1.08 million, a six-year high. Economists had expected a 1.5% increase.
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S&P 500 futures were down 0.12%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 0.1%, and Nasdaq futures sliding 0.06%. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 reached a record high as oil prices slumped.
European markets were mixed after a solid rally a day earlier as the region celebrated a return of German confidence in the latest ZEW survey.
Japan's Nikkei was down after a tumultuous week. Overnight, the Bank of Japan reiterated its policies and forecasts despite the world's third-largest economy dipping unexpectedly into recession earlier in the week. The surprise forced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to shelve an unpopular sales tax until 2017.
In premarket trading, Lowe's (LOW) added 4.6% after beating earnings estimates and lifting its full-year sales growth forecasts. Office-supplies retailer Staples (SPLS) was also higher, up 3.1%, after posting a 9% increase in sales over its online platform.
Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) was tumbling 13% after announcing it is looking to exit its iron ore operations in eastern Canada, which could mean the closure of Bloom Lake in Quebec. Closing the Bloom Lake mine could mean a cost as high as $700 million through to 2020.
BlackBerry (BBRY) shares were falling nearly 5.8% after getting hit with a downgrade from Morgan Stanley. Analysts said the market is currently too optimistic on the company's turnaround.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.