US stocks fall ahead of Fed minutes

US stocks Wednesday opened lower after a series of mixed retail earnings reports ahead of the afternoon release of minutes from the last Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 35.18 (0.23 percent) to 14,967.81.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 4.50 (0.27 percent) at 1,647.85, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 3.71 (0.10 percent) at 3,609.88

Home improvement retailer Lowe's stocks rose after the company raised its full-year profit, but Target and Staples were among the stocks that declined following earnings reports.

Meanwhile, all eyes were on the Wednesday afternoon release of minutes from the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee meeting in late July.

With markets gearing up for a possible September taper of the Fed's bond-buying program, "if anything, the potential for a big surprise in the minutes would come down on the dovish side of things," said Patrick O'Hare, analyst at