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FOMC minutes set to take center stage on Wall Street

U.S. stock index futures were roughly flat on Wednesday, as investors trod cautiously ahead of the much-anticipated release of the U.S. Federal Reserve's July minutes.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of May 7, 2014
Andrew Burton | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Markets worldwide will be keeping a close eye on the U.S. on Wednesday, as the Federal Open Market Committee releases the minutes from its July meeting, expected to come out at 2 p.m. ET.

Traders will be scrutinizing the report for any indications of a potential interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in 2016, and further details into what the central bank currently thinks about the U.S. economy.

Ahead of the release, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Tuesday that he believed the U.S. economy would likely be strong enough to handle at least one rate hike before the year was out.

Meanwhile, New York Fed President William Dudley said a rate hike in September was "possible." St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is also expected to speak ahead of the release.

Aside from the Fed, a bumper set of earnings is set to be released on Wednesday, with Lowe's and Target posting results. Cisco Systems, L Brands, NetApp, Performance Food and CACI International are also expected to release their latest earnings.

On the data front, Mortgage Applications fell 4 percent, even with mortgage rates near record lows. Meanwhile, one data point that's expected to cause a stir is the crude inventories data, which could shift oil prices, when it's released at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Ahead of the inventory data, crude futures traded lower on Wednesday as investors weighed up how successful potential talks between leading producers would be, when it came to the market's glut problem.

U.S. WTI and Brent futures were hovering around $46.40 per barrel and $49.10 respectively, at 8:16 a.m. ET.

Looking at international markets, European stocks traded lower, while Asia-Pacific indexes finished roughly mixed overnight.

In the previous session, U.S. indexes closed lower, with telecommunications posting solid losses.

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