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Stock futures remain cautious even as ADP better than expected

U.S. stock-index futures signaled a weak open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with investors reacting to the ADP payrolls report ahead of the Federal Reserve's latest policy minutes.

The data, which comes ahead of Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for December, had the private sector creating 238,000 jobs in December. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the ADP report to show that 200,000 private sector jobs were created in December, down slightly from November's 215,000.

The FOMC (Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee) minutes will be published at 2 p.m. ET, and will be of particular interest given last month's long-awaited announcement on tapering. Investors will want to know whether policymakers were unanimous in their decision to scale back asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion per month, and whether further tapering can be expected in February.


"U.S. futures and European markets are trading in a very narrow range this morning as traders are reluctant to take any big position ahead of the FOMC minutes. This is despite the fact that we had a positive number for the U.S. trade number (on Tuesday), which was another bullish signal for the U.S. economy," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at trading platform AvaTrade, in a research note.

(Read more: Track European markets live with CNBC)

"We do know that Mr Bernanke's influence is going to have its limit from February which will be his last meeting, so it is important that we do see a strong support of his view during the FOMC minutes today, which will smooth the ride for Janet Yellen. She is a known dove, and the expectations are that she will keep the ultra-loose monetary policy going for some time, as she values growth more than inflation, but the fact of the matter is that she herself voted for the tapering last year," he added.

(Read more: For new Fed chair, headaches may be only starting)

In addition, the Fed will publish consumer credit data for November at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. It will purchase $1.0-1.5 billion of 22-30-year notes during the day and Treasury will sell $21 billion of re-opened 10-year notes.

In the corporate space, quarterly earnings are expected from alcohol vendor Constellation Brands, FamilyDollar, RubyTuesday and agricultural company Monsanto on Wednesday.

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato

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