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US: Stocks fall ahead of Federal Reserve minutes

US stocks opened sharply lower on Tuesday as poor factory data from China sparked another round of global selloffs.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks opened lower Wednesday ahead of the release of Federal Reserve meeting minutes that could shed light on the central bank's plans for lifting interest rates.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 17,378.29, down 133.05 points (0.76 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 12.14 (0.58 per cent) to 2,084.78, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 29.54 (0.58 per cent) at 5,029.80 The Fed minutes, scheduled for release at 1800 GMT, will be scrutinized for signs of when the central bank will begin hiking benchmark interest rates, expected this year.

However, the July meeting took place before China unexpectedly devalued its currency and at a time when oil prices were 13 per cent higher than they are today, said analyst Patrick O'Hare.

"The major risk with the minutes today is that they will be over-analyzed and subject to accusations that (what) was said then may not necessarily apply now," he said.