Fed minutes in focus
U.S. stock futures were under pressure early Wednesday as market participants awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s November meeting on monetary policy.
The minutes, due at 2 p.m. ET, could provide further insight into the Fed’s decision to begin scaling back its massive $120 billion a month bond-buying program that has helped keep interest rates low.
At 5:30 a.m. ET, futures linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 104 points, or 0.29% to 35,662. S&P 500 futures lost 10.75 points, or 0.23% to 4,677.75 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 24.25 points, or 0.15% to 16,287.75.
Jobless claims, GDP data on tap
Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department is set to publish its weekly report on initial jobless claims today because the stock market is closed tomorrow in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The report will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET and analysts expect it to show initial unemployment claims dropped to 260,000 for the week ended Nov. 20, from 268,000 during the previous week.
Additionally, the U.S. Commerce Department will release the second estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) today.
Analysts forecast a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 2.2%, which is slightly ahead of the first estimate of 2%, but below the second-quarter growth rate of 6.6%.
Crude futures lower as Biden announces SPR releases
On the commodities front, crude futures also edged lower on Wednesday even after President Joe Biden announced a coordinated release of emergency oil reserves to tame high energy prices.
Biden made the announcement on Tuesday, saying his administration plans to release 50 million barrels, in coordination with the United Kingdom, South Korea, China, India, and Japan.
Meanwhile, data released Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed that U.S. crude stockpiles rose 2.3 million barrels, above analysts’ expectations for a decline of about 500,000 barrels.
As of 5:30 a.m. ET, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 5 cents to $78.45 a barrel. Global Brent crude futures tumbled 12 cents, or 0.15% to $82.19 a barrel.