* Staples tumbles, Lowe's rises after results
* Home resales hit more than three-year high
* Fed minutes due at 2:00 p.m. EDT
* Indexes off: Dow 0.4 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Aug 21 U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday
as investor caution prevailed before the Federal Reserve
publishes the minutes of its July policy-setting meeting later
Investors have been grappling over the past several weeks
with uncertainty about when the Fed will begin to wind down its
$85 billion a month stimulus program. The minutes from the
meeting may provide clues to the timing and scope of the Fed's
The minutes will be released at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT).
"I believe tapering is going to begin in September because
it has to. The market needs to adjust to the beginning of
getting back to normal on rates," said Doug Cote, chief market
strategist at ING U.S. Investment Management in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 57.32 points or
0.38 percent, to 14,945.67, the S&P 500 lost 5.32 points
or 0.32 percent, to 1,647.03 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 2.977 points or 0.08 percent, to 3,610.613.
The S&P 500 rose on Tuesday to halt a four-day losing streak
but remained under technical pressure as it closed below its
50-day moving average for a third straight session. The level,
near 1,658, is becoming technical resistance.
Retailers were in focus for a second day on Wednesday with
earnings from Lowe's, Target and others.
Target warned its annual profit may be near the low
end of its forecast as consumer spending remains cautious,
sending it shares 1.9 percent lower to $66.65.
Staples reported weaker-than-expected quarterly
results on dismal sales in international markets and cut its
outlook for the year. Shares slumped 12.5 percent to $14.73.
Shares of home improvement chain Lowe's rose 5.4
percent to $46.48 after it reported a bigger-than-expected rise
in profit and sales as the housing market's recovery encouraged
people to spend more on their homes.
U.S. home resales rose in July to their highest level in
over three years, suggesting a sharp increase in mortgage rates
is having only a limited impact on the housing market recovery.
Shares of Toll Brothers rose 1.3 percent to $32.50
after the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder reported a jump in
revenue as the recovery in the housing market gathered pace.
Market makers and traders waited to hear details on a flood
of erroneous trades that hit U.S. equity options markets on
Tuesday when Goldman Sachs sent orders accidentally
because of a technical error.