Wall St. set to open lower ahead of Fed minutes

October 11, 2016 7:32 AM EDT

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) - Wall Street looked set to open lower on Wednesday as investors eyed the finer details of the Federal Reserve's September policy meeting.

While the Fed stood pat on interest rates during the meeting, three members voted for a hike. The minutes will reveal policymakers' views on the progress of the U.S. economy and its ability to absorb an increase this year.

Traders have currently set a 70 percent chance of a rate hike in December, the CME Group's FedWatch tool showed.

"We are going to have to wait till 2 p.m. today to see what kind of discussion the FOMC had on rates," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

Wall Street sold off on Tuesday as biotechnology stocks took a beating and the first rush of corporate earnings, including those of Alcoa (NYSE: AA), were disappointing.

The markets are likely to be more volatile as the third-quarter earnings season will test relatively high valuations of stocks. The changing dynamics of the U.S. presidential elections and a strong possibility of a December U.S. interest rate hike are the other factors weighing on investors' minds.

Overall S&P 500 earnings are currently expected to fall 0.7 percent in the third quarter, marking the fifth quarter of negative earnings in a row, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were down 46 points, or 0.25 percent, with 27,328 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.5 points, or 0.26 percent, with 183,453 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 14.5 points, or 0.3 percent, on volume of 26,877 contracts.

Oil prices were up 0.27 percent on Wednesday as major producers meet in Istanbul where oversupply could be addressed. [O/R]

Fortinet (NASDAQ: FTNT) shares plunged 14.5 percent premarket after the cybersecurity company cut third-quarter revenue and profit forecast. Shares of rivals Palo Alto (NYSE: PANW) and Fireeye (NASDAQ: FEYE) also fell.

Barracuda Networks (NYSE: CUDA) rose 8.9 percent after the computer security and storage firm's quarterly revenue beat analysts' estimates.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) was up 0.4 percent after Mizuho raised the stock's price target. The iPhone maker's shares have risen for the past six days, gaining in part by rival Samsung's issues with its Galaxy Note 7 phones and its eventual profit warning on Wednesday.

Newell Brands (NYSE: NWL) rose 3.4 percent after the consumer products company said it would sell its tool business to Stanley Black & Decker for $1.95 billion.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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