STOCK MARKET NEWS: Target tumbles, retail sales slump and Fed minutes out

James G. Cole

U.S. equity futures traded lower ahead of a key report on retail sales and earnings reports from major retailers.

The major futures indexes suggest a decline of 0.5% when the opening bell rings on Wall Street.

Oil prices bounced around on Wednesday, after hitting a six-month low the previous day.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures traded around $87.00 a barrel. Brent crude futures were around $92.00 a barrel.

On the economic calendar, economists surveyed by Refinitiv anticipate retail sales to inch up 0.1% month-over-month, well below June’s stronger-than-expected increase of 1.0%. Excluding the automotive component, spending is seen slipping 0.1% in July compared with a 1.0% rise the prior month.

The parade of retail earnings continues
 Wednesday morning, with home improvement chain Lowe’s and big box department store chain Target. In the afternoon, the focus will turn to computer networking giant and Dow member Cisco Systems.

Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday as regional markets looked to strong economic signs out of the U.S. and China as drivers of growth.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.2%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5% and China’s Shanghai Composite edged up 0.5%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 rose 0.2%, its third straight gain, adding 8.06 points to 4,305.20. The Dow gained 239.57 points, or 0.7%, to 34,152.01. The Nasdaq fell 25.50 points, or 0.2%, to 13,102.55.

Walmart jumped 5.1% after the nation’s largest retailer reported strong results that easily topped analysts’ forecasts. Home Depot rose 4.1% after also reporting better-than-expected results.

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