Stock futures slip as investors await Fed minutes

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U.S. stock index futures dipped slightly on Wednesday as investors await details of the Federal Reserve's last meeting for clues on the timing of the next interest rate hike. The Fed will release the minutes of its Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), which could offer clues on whether the central bank will raise rates in March. Policymakers, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen, have been stoking the possibility of a rate hike sooner than later. But traders have priced in slim chances of a move until June, even with the backdrop of strong economic data. The odds for a hike in March are 22 percent, increase to 47 percent for May, and stand at 69 percent for a move in June, according to Thomson Reuters data. Also on investors' minds is how the Fed views uncertainty regarding economic policy under President Donald Trump. Trump's promises of tax and regulatory reforms and fiscal stimulus have boosted investors' confidence, helping send Wall Street to record highs. But, the rally has inched along in recent days as investors await more clarity on his plans.

Wall Street's main indexes hit record intraday highs on Tuesday, the seventh for the S&P 500 in eight sessions, as a clutch of strong results from top U.S. retailers refueled the so-called "Trump rally". Fed Board Governor Jerome Powell could offer more clues on the central bank's plans when he speaks in New York at 1:00 p.m. ET. Among stocks, Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT. O) slumped 11 percent in premarket trading after the drugmaker announced a $75 million public offering.

UPS (UPS. N) slipped 1.4 percent to $106.25 after Morgan Stanley cut its price target on the package delivery company's stock. Tesla (TSLA. O), TJX (TJX. N) and HP Inc (HPQ. N) are some of the key companies scheduled to report results on Wednesday.

Automakers urge new EPA chief to withdraw Obama car fuel-efficiency rules WASHINGTON A trade association representing General Motors Co , Toyota Motor Corp , Volkswagen AG and nine other automakers on Tuesday asked new Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt to withdraw an Obama administration decision to lock in vehicle emission rules through 2025.

OPEC cuts, weak freight rates help traders profit on Asia crude routes SINGAPORE Oil traders from around the world, including the United States, Britain and Brazil, have tripled their sales to Asia as they take advantage of an emerging supply gap following OPEC-led production cuts announced late last year.

UK economy picks up in late 2016 but signs of Brexit hit appear LONDON Britain's economy accelerated at the end of 2016 but growth for the whole year was weaker than previously thought and there are signs of weakness ahead, data showed, suggesting the Brexit vote will start to take its toll in 2017.