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US: Wall St little changed ahead of Fed minutes

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[NEW YORK] US stocks were little changed in early trading on Wednesday as investors awaited Federal Reserve minutes of its May meeting that could cement the chances of a rate hike next month.

Fed funds futures show that traders now see a 75 per cent chance that the US central bank will raise interest rates in June.

Investors are also awaiting more details regarding the Fed trimming its US$4.5 trillion balance sheet.

"Our U.S. economists expect the minutes to come down on the hawkish side and continue to expect the Fed to hike in June and September and announce balance sheet reduction in December," Citi analysts wrote on Wednesday.

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At 9.40 am ET (1340 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 4.52 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 20,942.43, the S&P 500 was up 1.28 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 2,399.7 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 6.17 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,144.88.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by the utilities index's 0.49 percent rise.

While recent economic data has been mixed, with signs of a dip in consumer sentiment and spending, the job market continues to strengthen. That could give the Fed impetus to continue with its path of monetary tightening.

The tightening labor market and historically low mortgage rates have helped the housing market recovery. Amid a raft of housing data due is a report that is expected to show existing home sales fell in April, compared with March.

The laggard again was the consumer staples index, down 0.2 percent after a weak report from Lowe's, the No 2 US home improvement chain.