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Fed doves seem to rule the roost, but markets seem wary

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were near breakeven this morning, with the indecisive nature of the Fed minutes leaving investors merely guessing at interest rate moves. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq were slightly higher Wednesday. (CNBC)

The minutes from the Fed's July meeting showed a divided policy panel, worried about inflation and split over the strength of the economy. That makes December its best and probably only chance for a rate hike this year, some strategists said. (CNBC)

U.S. oil prices were higher this morning, adding to Wednesday's modest gains, pushing crude to $47 per barrel, as traders continued to talk up the potential for an output cut agreement at a meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC producers next month. (Reuters)

Japan's Nikkei stock index lost 1.55 percent overnight, as the yen initially rose against the dollar before retreating. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks were little changed, as Moody's raised its forecasts for China's economic growth in the wake of stimulus policies. (CNBC)

But forget the slowdown in China, the Brexit vote, and global financial volatility, Moody's said the "most immediate" risk to the global economic outlook was the U.S. presidential election — regardless of whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins. (CNBC)

Dow component Wal-Mart (WMT) beat on earnings and revenue. The retail giant raised its full-year outlook, even with an expected 5 cent per share hit from the pending Jet.com acquisition. The stock soared in the premarket. (CNBC)

Cisco Systems (CSCO), also a Dow stock, beat estimates on earnings and revenue. But the networking equipment maker was cautious on guidance. Cisco also plans to cut up to 5,500 employees or 7 percent of its workforce. (CNBC)

Two of four U.S. swimmers who say they were with Ryan Lochte when they were robbed at gunpoint in Rio were removed from their plane by Brazilian authorities. Lochte, already in the U.S., was sticking to his story. The other Olympic swimmer was still in Brazil. (NBC News)

As questions swirl around Lochte's account, a new report provides details of a Tuesday armed robbery of an Olympian from Great Britain. The unidentified team member was held up "enjoying a night on the town" in the early hours. (USA Today)

The U.S. apparently did time its $400 million payment to Iran with the release of American prisoners, according to the Wall Street Journal. Maintaining it was not a ransom, a U.S. official told NBC News the cash was delayed to make sure the Americans were safe.

In a notice set to be published today, the agency overseeing thousands of federal buildings nationwide is expected to declare transgender employees and visitors must be allowed to use the bathrooms that match their gender identities. (NBC News)

BY THE NUMBERS

Investors look to three economic reports this morning for clues on the economy and whether the data might sway the Fed on rates. Jobless claims and the Philly Fed survey are out at 8:30 a.m. ET. The index of leading economic indicators comes at 10 a.m. ET.

There's more Fed-speak today, with Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan speaking at 8 a.m. ET and San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaking at 4 p.m. ET.

In addition to Wal-Mart this morning, other retailers, Gap (GPS) and Ross Stores (ROST), are out with earnings after the bell this afternoon.

Five years after the housing recovery began, 5.9 million borrowers still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. While falling, the underwater rates still well above normal levels and equally spread across urban and suburban communities.

STOCKS TO WATCH

SolarCity (SCTY) announced new cost cuts, including cutting the salaries of the CEO and CTO $1 from $275,000. The company, in the process of being bought by Tesla (TSLA) for $2.6 billion, cut expenses to compensate for a reduced solar installation forecast.

Gannett (GCI) has raised its bid for Chicago Tribune parent Tronc (TRNC), according to the Wall Street Journal, although the exact details of the new bid could not be learned. Gannett first bid $12.25 per share, then raised it to $15. Both bids were rejected.

L Brands (LB) beat estimates by 11 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of 70 cents per share. The Victoria's Secret parent also raised its outlook for the full year. The company's' results were helped by a three percent rise in comparable store sales.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first store, Best Buy (BBY) is holding a 50-hour sale, beginning at 11 p.m. ET tonight. The electronics chain will be offering Black Friday-like deals on all kinds of products available both online and in stores.

McDonald's (MCD) said it won't distribute activity trackers in its Happy Meals after reports they might cause skin irritations. The fitness bands were available in the U.S. and Canada.


WATERCOOLER

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the 100m gold medalist in Rio, goes for his third straight 200m Olympic title today. He'll try to hold off Canadian sprinter Andre de Grasse. Bolt is the 200m world record holder with a time of 19.19 seconds. (NBC News)

The U.S. trio of Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin combined last night for the first sweep of the women's 100m hurdles in Olympics history. The Rollins gold medal was the first for the American track team at the Rio games. (NBC News)

In the medal race, the United States remained on top ahead of Thursday's competition with 93 — split pretty evenly with 30 gold, 32 silver, and 31 bronze. China was edging Great Britain 54 to 50 overall, and tied with 19 golds each. (NBC News)