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US futures rise ahead of Fed minutes

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday ahead of the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting, which could shed some light on whether the central bank plans on raising interest rates next month.

At the end of October, the Fed laid out some of what it would consider in December when deciding whether to move its target fed funds rate off zero for the first time in nearly seven years. This could be emphasized in the minutes, released at 2 p.m. ET.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen.
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Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen.

"The minutes might add to the stock of knowledge about the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) reaction function ahead of December's meeting. We strongly doubt, however, that they will dim the likelihood of a rate hike next month, the market-implied probability of which still seems too low to us at only about two thirds," said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets.

In Europe, equities traded lower Wednesday amid further security scares after the Paris attacks last Friday weigh on investor confidence.

The pan-European STOXX 600 traded 0.36 percent lower, while French stocks sank about 0.75 percent after five people were arrested and at least one killed in a police raid on Saint-Denis, Paris early on Wednesday morning.

Back in the U.S., as well as Fed minutes there are also a number of Fed officials due to speak Wednesday, including Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, who was on "Squawk Box." He said he is still in favor of a rate hike despite Friday's attacks in Paris.

New York Fed President Bill Dudley, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart are on a panel in the morning at the Clearing House Annual Conference in New York.

Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan speaks at noon on the economy and Fed policy, and former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be at the Economic Club of New York at noon.

Oil could also remain a factor Wednesday. There is government inventory data expected at 10:30 a.m. ET, after American Petroleum Institute data Tuesday afternoon showed a small stockpile draw.

U.S. crude futures traded up 28 cents higher to $40.96 a barrel early Wednesday. The gain followed an over $1 fall during the previous session. Brent crude rallied 1.3 percent, gaining 59 cents to trade around $44.16 per barrel.

On the data front, traders took in housing starts for October came in below expectations housing starts and building permits, which rose 4.1 percent. Retailers Target and Lowe's reported third-quarter earnings.

Keurig Green Mountain, L Brands, NetApp and Salesforce.com are all due after market close.