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Wall Street set for tepid open with Fed minutes in focus

Kitco News

July 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set for a muted open on Wednesday as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve's meeting last month for clues on the health of the economy and the pace of interest rate hikes to combat spiking inflation.

After a brutal first half of the year for equity markets globally, nervous investors are keeping a close watch on central bank actions as they try to assess the impact of aggressive rate hikes on global growth.

Fed policymakers are already making a case for larger interest rate hikes, with traders factoring in another 75-basis-point rate hike later in July.

Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) June policy meeting, where it raised policy rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, will be released at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

"The declining commodity prices suggest that we probably have reached a peak in terms of energy prices, agricultural prices, and that's good news in terms of inflation," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

"However, the Fed is going to stay the course and I suspect that in this afternoon's FOMC minutes there will be hints that 75 basis point hike is on its way in July."

The Ukraine conflict, decades-high inflation and the Fed's pivot away from easy-money policy have pushed the S&P 500 (.SPX) to its steepest first-half percentage drop since 1970. The benchmark index is down nearly 20% so far this year.

A key part of the U.S. Treasury yield curve stayed inverted for a second straight day on Wednesday, reflecting growing angst in the world's biggest bond market over recession risks. [US/]

A survey from the Institute for Supply Management slated for release at 10:00 a.m. ET is likely to show U.S. services industry activity slowed for the third month in a row.

A slew of data on U.S. employment is also due this week, including the June nonfarm payrolls report on Friday that will be parsed for clues on economic health.

At 8:26 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 72 points, or 0.23%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 11.5 points, or 0.3%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 45.25 points, or 0.38%.

Shares of Inc (AMZN.O) dipped 0.4% in premarket trading after Britain's antitrust watchdog started an investigation into the online retail giant.

Altria Group Inc (MO.N) rose 2.2% after the U.S. health regulator temporarily stayed the marketing denial order on Juul Labs Inc's e-cigarettes.

Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) and DoorDash Inc (DASH.N) fell 3.4% and 7.2%, respectively, after agreed to take a 2% stake in Just Eat's (TKWY.AS) struggling U.S. food delivery business Grubhub. read more

Reporting by Amruta Khandekar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Anil D'Silva
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