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Futures Lower Ahead of Fed Minutes; Dell Slides

U.S. stock index futures were lower Wednesday, after the S&P 500 briefly hit its best level in four years in the previous session. Investors are likely to remain cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve’s minutes due later this afternoon.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its latest meeting at 2pm ET. Traders will be watching to see any signs the Fed may be considering further stimulus measures for the economyorraise interest rates sooner than expected.

Investor sentiment in the U.S. was initially buoyed on Tuesday by hopes that the European Central Bank would set a threshold for yields on bonds of troubled euro zone countries, however markets retreated by the close with a pullback affecting not only the U.S., but European and Asian stocks as well.

A potentially disruptive factor for U.S. markets is renewed uncertainty over Greece’s future in the euro zone. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is set to request a two-year extension to the country’s bailout terms, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to be reluctant to concede more time for the struggling country.

Analysts have told CNBC that a compromise is the most likely solution to the meetings.

Meanwhile, Japan's exports fell last month as shipments to Europe and China declined, fueling worries over global demand after a string of weak trade figures from Asia's major exporting countries.

On the economic front, existing home sales for the month of July will be released at 10 a.m.

Among earnings, Dell tumbled after the tech giant warned of a difficult second half and cut its full-year earnings guidance as customers cut back on computer purchases ahead of the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 software.

Toll Brothers jumped after the luxury homebuilder reported a higher quarterly profit and a sharp gain in new orders.

Chico's rallied after the women's apparel retailer posted quarterly results that topped expectations and raised the low end of its full-year revenue outlook.

Hewlett-Packard is scheduled to post earnings after the closing bell.

Weekly mortgage applications slumped last week, with refinancing demand falling as mortgage rates jumped to their highest level since late June, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

What's Happening This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Existing home sales, oil inventories, FOMC minutes; Earnings from Hewlett-Packard
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, PMI manufacturing index flash, new home sales, FHFA home price index; Earnings from Gold Fields, Hormel Foods, Big Lots, Salesforce.com
FRIDAY: Durable goods orders, USDA food prices outlook

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