Stock futures flat as investors assess Fed minutes

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U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as investors digested the minutes of the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting, which pointed to an interest rate hike "fairly soon". Still, policymakers did not appear to show a sense of urgency in raising rates as inflation remained below the long-term target of 2 percent, effectively taking a rate hike in March off the table. Traders have priced in a mere 22 percent chance of a move next month, with the odds jumping to 52 percent for a hike in May and 70 percent for June, according to Thomson Reuters data. Fed members also expressed concerns about the uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump's policies, such as tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks, and the effect they could have on the economy. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that tax reforms were the government's top priority and that he wanted to get the reform done by the August recess. Earnings and headline news have boosted the so-called "Trump trade" in the past few weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average marked its ninth straight record close on Wednesday, helped by gains in DuPont (DD. N).

Oil prices rose 1.4 percent on Thursday reports of a drop in U.S. inventories. Among data that could draw attention is jobless claims numbers, which are estimated to have risen slightly last week. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT). Shares of Tesla (TSLA. O) rose 2 percent to $279.20 in premarket trading after the electric car maker posted a smaller quarterly net loss and said its mass-market Model 3 sedan was on track for volume production by September.

L Brands (LB. N) dropped nearly 13 percent to $50.61 after reporting weakening demand at its Victoria's Secret business. Kohl's (KSS. N) rose 3.16 percent to $43.10 after the department store operator's profit beat expectations. Nvidia (NVDA. O) slipped 4.4 percent to $105.88 after Instinet downgraded the chipmaker's stock to "reduce" from "buy".

U.S. house prices to rise; analysts wary of deregulation: Reuters poll The U.S. housing market will rise steadily and contribute significantly to economic growth in the coming year, according to a majority of analysts in a Reuters poll who nearly all agreed that further stimulus was not required.

Ghosn cedes Nissan CEO role to focus on alliance with Renault, Mitsubishi TOKYO Nissan Motor Co said Carlos Ghosn will step aside as CEO after leading the company for 16 years, allowing him to concentrate on deploying his cost-cutting expertise across its alliance with Renault SA and newly added Mitsubishi Motors Corp .

Tesla says Model 3 on track for volume production by September SAN FRANCISCO Tesla Inc said on Wednesday its mass-market Model 3 sedan was on track for volume production by September, encouraging investors who see the electric vehicle as the avenue to profitability for the young company.