By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - U.S. stocks are seen opening largely lower Wednesday, continuing the weakness of the previous session with the focus on more earnings from the retail sector and the minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting.
The major indices closed sharply lower Tuesday, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping over 280 points, or 0.8%, its first down day in five. The broad-based S&P 500 also fell 0.7%, its worst day since July 19, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.9%.
Weighing heavily on the market was the sharp drop in July retail sales , which fell 1.1% compared with a revised 0.7% gain in June. Weaker quarterly results from the home improvement chain Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) didn’t help, although better-than-expected numbers from retailing giant Walmart (NYSE: WMT ) provided some solace.
Retail earnings week continues on Wednesday, with Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW ), a rival to Home Depot in the home improvement retail market, forecasting full-year sales above estimates after its same-store sales fell 1.6% in the second quarter, compared with expectations of a 2.2% drop.
Discount retailer Target (NYSE: TGT ) also raised its forecast for the year, after topping expectations with its second-quarter sales, which like Walmart's were boosted by strong back-to-school spending.
Also of interest will be the release of minutes from the July Federal Reserve meeting, at 2 PM ET (1600 GMT), with investors looking for clues as to when the central bank will end its pandemic-era emergency programs.
Elsewhere, oil prices traded higher Wednesday, attempting to rebound after four days of declines, on news Iran has moved closer to producing weapons-grade uranium, likely derailing any move to lift sanctions on its oil exports.
Investors will keep a wary eye on the latest crude oil supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration , due later in the day, after the American Petroleum Institute, an industry body, reported a draw of just over 1 million barrels for the week ending Aug. 13.
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