February 21, 2018 / 12:48 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat ahead of Fed minutes

* Futures: Dow off 39 pts, S&P down 1.75 pts, Nasdaq up 7.25 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were mostly flat on Wednesday ahead of the release of minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting that could offer clues on the pace of interest rate hikes.

By 6:59 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis had lost 39 points. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.75 points, while Nasdaq 100 e-minis gained 7.25 points.

The benchmark S&P 500 broke a six-session winning streak on Tuesday as a sharp decline in Walmart shares weighed. Technology stocks were the only gainers.

Among premarket movers, online lender LendingClub's shares fell 11.62 percent after posting a wider quarterly loss and higher operating expenses.

Tinder owner Match Group's shares fell about 4 percent after JPMorgan downgraded the stock to "neutral".

Later in the day, the Fed will releases minutes of the January meeting where policymakers left interest rates unchanged. However, a rate hike in March is near-certain, with traders favoring the case at an 83.1 percent, according to CME Group's Fedwatch tool.

Worries that the U.S. central bank may become more aggressive in lifting rates after economic data stirred concerns about an overheating economy led to a spike in bond yields earlier in the month and triggered a sharp selloff in equities.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yields are still near four-year high at 2.8914.

Wall Street's fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility index, was at 20.44, slightly above Friday's close of 19.46.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker and his Minneapolis counterpart, Neel Kashkari, are expected to speak at separate events later in the day.

The National Association of Realtors is expected to report that existing home sales increased 0.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.6 million units in January. The report is due at 10:00 am ET. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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