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Fed minutes in the spotlight on Wall Street; oil, data in focus

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) before the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate announcement in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) before the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate announcement in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a relatively flat open on Wednesday, as investors geared up for the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting.

Dow futures gained just 11 points, while S&P and Nasdaq futures traded 0.50 points higher and 9.50 points higher, respectively.

At the meeting in May, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to hold fire on raising interest rates.

Investors will be combing through the documents to see if there are any indications as to when the Fed could raise rates over the course of 2017. Many analysts are currently pricing in a rate hike at its next meeting in June.

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari are speaking at separate engagements later Wednesday.

Meanwhile, investors will remain on alert for any news out of the U.S. president's first foreign trip. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Aside from the FOMC minutes – which are due at 2 p.m. ET – investors digested a jump in total mortgage application volume. Other data set for release Wednesday include FHFA home prices at 9 a.m. ET and existing home sales data at 10 a.m. ET.

In earnings news, Lowe's reported weaker-than-expected quarterly results, sending the firm's shares down 3.3 percent.

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With members of OPEC set to meet in Vienna this Thursday, investors are keeping a watchful eye on the oil market this week. Ahead of the meeting, U.S. crude was trading slightly lower, hovering around $51.26 at 8:31 a.m. ET on Wednesday, while Brent stood around $54.04 per barrel.

In Europe, bourses eked out slight gains, while Asia-Pacific markets finished trade on a relatively positive note. On Tuesday, U.S. equities finished in the black.

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