Stock Futures Waver as Investors Brace for QE Tapering

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were wavering Wednesday as investors around the world debated the possibility of hints that the Federal Reserve could soon scale back its $85 billion a month bond-buying stimulus program in the latest release of its minutes amid some better economic data, particularly robust job gains in the cyclical sectors of the economy.

Futures for the S&P 500 were unchanged, or 1.02 points below fair value, to 1,645.5. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 12 points, or 4.66 points above fair value, to 15,234. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 1 point, or 2.22 points below fair value, to 2,975.25.

Before the market open, the Mortgage Bankers Association said that mortgage application activity continued to drop in the wake of rising interest rates amid fears of less Fed support during the week ending July 5. The Market Composite Index decreased by 4% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.

Both American International Group and General Electric shares were edging lower in premarket trading after the Financial Stability Oversight Council on Tuesday evening said that the insurer and GE's GE Capital Corp. were potential threats to the financial system and categorized them as "systemically important" firms .

Nabors Industries was declining by 4.37% to $15.39 after the oil services provider announced that its second-quarter earnings will likely come in below expectations amid weaker demand for its rigs and stiffer competition.

Family Dollar Stores was popping more than 3% to $65.90 after the retailer booked fiscal third-quarter earnings of $1.05 a share, beating expectations by two cents. The company also hiked its full-year outlook but cautioned that some customers are facing "financial headwinds."

Cliffs Natural Resources was surging more than 5.5% to $17.30 after company head Joseph Carrabba announced his plans to retire as president and CEO of the mining company by Dec. 31. James Kirsch, who's serving on Cliffs' board as lead director, has been elected non-executive chairman of the board effectively immediately, replacing Carrabba as chairman. Its share price action was also being influenced by BB&T Capital's upgrade of the stock to "buy" from "hold."

Hewlett-Packard was gaining 2.87% to $26.23 after Citigroup analysts raised their view on the stock to "buy" from "sell" and hiked their price target for Hewlett-Packard to $32 from $16, citing a positive inflection point for the company's services and the benefit of cost savings that will take place in the back half of this year.

The most important economic release so far this week will occur at 2 p.m., EDT, when the Federal Open Market Committee will issue the minutes from its June 18 to 19 meeting. Investors are expected to parse the release for any clues into the sentiment of Fed voting members regarding the tapering of stimulus and respond accordingly.