Wall Street opens higher; investors await Fed minutes

Traders and financial professionals work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the opening bell in New York City, on Aug 11, 2017.
Traders and financial professionals work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the opening bell in New York City, on Aug 11, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks opened higher on Wednesday (Aug 16) morning ahead of the latest Federal Reserve's minutes, which will offer investors clues on future interest rake hikes this year.

The central bank will release the details of the July policy meeting at 1400 ET (2 a.m. Thursday morning Singapore time). Policymakers unanimously decided to keep interest rates unchanged in the July 25-26 meeting and said they planned to reduce the central bank's massive holdings of bonds "relatively soon".

"Investors are looking at expectations of rates going up, but not right away, in a measured pace," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital. "I don't believe the Fed's going to bring any shocking news to investors."

A slide in inflation readings in recent months, which remain below the Fed's 2 per cent target rate, have made the markets skeptical about a rate hike by December. However, recent hawkish comments by New York Fed chief William Dudley advocating for another rate hike this year and strong retail sales data on Tuesday have upped the odds.

Chances of a December hike rose to 49.2 per cent, up from 42 per cent at the start of the week, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

At 9:39 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 46.94 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 22,045.93 and the S&P 500 was up 4.79 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 2,469.40. The Nasdaq Composite was up 11.22 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,344.23. Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher with material index's 0.46 per cent rise leading the advancers.

Data showed that US homebuilding unexpectedly fell in July as the construction of single- and multi-family homes declined.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,920 to 587. On the Nasdaq, 1,525 issues rose and 660 fell.