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US STOCKS-Wall Street to open flat with Fed minutes on deck
July 10, 2013 / 1:11 PM / in 4 years

US STOCKS-Wall Street to open flat with Fed minutes on deck

* China exports miss expectations

* Minutes from Fed’s June meeting due

* Family Dollar rises after earnings

* Futures: Dow up 15 pts, S&P off 0.1 pt, Nasdaq up 1 pt

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, July 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open little changed on Wednesday, following weaker-than-expected data from China and as investors awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting.

China warned on Wednesday of a “grim” outlook for trade after data showed exports fell 3.1 percent in June against forecasts for a rise of 4 percent. However, the data fueled speculation the China’s central bank may ease policy in an effort to boost growth.

Later in the session at 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), the minutes from the June 18-19 meeting of the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee will be released and perused by investors for any signs of the central bank’s plan to trim its bond buying program.

“Folks will definitely be focusing on that; if nothing else it will be a reminder of what we heard a couple of weeks from the Fed in terms of the direction of the quantitative easing program and (let‘s) see if we can get any additional insights into timing of that,” said Paul Mangus, head of equity research and strategy at Wells Fargo Private Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The S&P 500 has risen 2.4 percent over the past four sessions, pushing the benchmark S&P index to within 1 percent of its all-time closing high May 21 of 1,669.16.

S&P 500 futures slipped 0.1 point and were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 15 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 1 point.

Family Dollar Stores Inc rose 2.9 percent to $65.80 in premarket trade after the discount chain posted quarterly earnings.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning, analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to grow 2.9 percent in the latest quarter from a year ago, while revenue is forecast to increase 1.5 percent from a year ago.

“Estimates have come down pretty sharply since March so expectations aren’t that high; you may actually have some positive surprises this quarter because expectations are so low,” said Mangus.

Nabors Industries Ltd fell 5.1 percent to $15.19 before the opening bell after the owner of the world’s largest land-drilling rig fleet, warned on Tuesday that its second-quarter operating profit would fall short of market expectations.

Fastenal Co slipped 1.2 percent to $46.65 in light premarket trade after the industrial and construction supply company posted second-quarter earnings that matched Wall Street expectations.

After the close, earnings are expected from fast-food restaurant operator Yum Brands Inc.

At 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT), the Commerce Department releases wholesale inventories for May. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast inventories to have risen 0.3 percent versus an increase of 0.2 percent in April.

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