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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Aug. 17:
1. -- U.S. stock futures declined on Thursday, Aug. 17, as investors continued to digest signs the Federal Reserve could begin to unwind its balance sheet as soon as its next meeting.
In minutes from its July meeting, members of the Fed's monetary policy committee said they wanted to wait for an "upcoming" meeting to begin debt reduction. Several members were ready to announce a start date at the July meeting, indicating a willingness to take the first step soon, possibly in September as many economists anticipate.
The Fed had previously said it would implement changes to its balance sheet "relatively soon," provided the economy expands as expected. The central bank currently holds $4.5 trillion in Treasuries and mortgage-related bonds, purchased to buoy U.S. growth after the financial crisis, and shedding some of them would likely tighten monetary conditions in the same way an interest-rate hike would.
Fed members also discussed concerns over inflation trends. Members said they could "afford to be patient ... in deciding when to increase the federal funds rate further" and that it was imperative to wait until "incoming information confirmed that the recent low readings on inflation were not likely to persist."
The central bank left the federal funds rate at 1% to 1.25% at that meeting, as widely expected. Another rate hike is not anticipated until at least December. Even then, chances of a year-end increase are only at 49.2%, according to CME Group fed funds futures.
"We know the Fed has a rate destination in mind, and a stated goal of three this year, but what remains to be seen is if they deliver this year or next," said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*TRADE. "Many will be keeping a watchful eye on inflation. If we see improvement on that front, there's a good chance we'll see more action in 2017."
2. -- Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) declined on Thursday morning after posting a decline in quarterly profit and sales.
Adjusted earnings dropped 3%, while revenue declined 4%. Non-GAAP profit of 61 cents a share was in-line with estimates. Revenue of $12.13 billion came in $60 million higher than estimated. Sales have fallen for the past seven straight quarters in a row.
By segment, Cisco's core switching and routing businesses saw another quarter in decline, falling 9% year-over-year. Data center and collaboration fell 4% and 2%, respectively.
Cisco expects further drops in sales over its first quarter. The networking tech developer anticipates a 1% to 3% decline in first-quarter revenue and earnings of 59 cents to 61 cents a share, wrapping estimates of 60 cents.