Having dropped off sharply yesterday following disappointing results from retailers and talk of quicker Fed rate hikes, US markets look set to open higher today ahead of the FOMC minutes. Futures suggest the S&P500 will open 2 points higher at 1,874 with the Dow Jones expected to open 15 points higher at 16,389. Despite comments from Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser that the pace of tapering may be too slow, it seems unlikely that this will be a focus of discussion in today’s FOMC minutes with Bernanke and Yellen both having clearly signalled a ‘steady pace’ until the end. What will be of more importance will be how much “slack” is believed to be left in the labour market and how that should affect the timing of rate hikes. Saving anything wild in the minutes, mid 2015 still seems the most likely timing for a rise in US interest rates. Chair Janet Yellen is also speaking before the release of minutes. The retail earnings onslaught may continue with earnings from Lowe’s, Target and American Eagle. Target is expected to earn 72c per share on revenues of $17.02bn Lowe’s is estimated to earn 61c per share on revenues of $13.91bn American Eagle is expected to earn 18c per share on revenues of $649.2m