By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Devik Jain
(Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were set to open slightly higher on Thursday, with investors seeking fresh signals for future rate hikes after minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting suggested a less aggressive monetary policy tightening path.
Traders are seeing a slightly greater probability of the Fed raising rates by 50 basis points in September, rather than a third 75 basis-point hike. [FEDWATCH]
"I would characterize yesterday's release of the minutes from last meeting really less hawkish," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth.
"The recent rally clearly has been driven by a combination of better than feared economic data and earnings."
The tech-heavy Nasdaq has bounced nearly 22% from its mid-June lows, while the benchmark S&P 500 has risen 17%, supported by upbeat results from corporate America.
Treasury yields pulled back slightly on Thursday, giving a boost to some high-growth and technology stocks in premarket trading.
The Fed has lifted its benchmark interest rate by 225 bps so far this year to control four-decades high inflation.
Data showing softer-than-expected inflation in July has sparked a risk-on rally in Wall Street in the last few weeks, with focus now on the Fed's annual Jackson Hole symposium next week.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 250,000 for the week ended Aug. 13, according to data from the Labor Department.
Retail earnings have been mixed so far, with encouraging reports from Walmart (NYSE: WMT ) and Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) earlier this week, while Target (NYSE: TGT )'s profit slump in the previous session dragged the retail sector down 1.2%.
Kohl's Corp (NYSE: KSS ) dropped 8.5% in trading before the bell on Thursday after the retailer cut its full-year sales and profit forecasts.
Estee Lauder (NYSE: EL ) Cos Inc slipped 1.2% as it forecast full-year sales and profit below estimates, due to a hit from pandemic-related lockdowns in China.
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