Stocks: 4 things to know before the open

S&P futures 2014 08 20
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Markets are struggling to take another step forward ahead of some big announcements.

U.S. stock futures were edging lower, European markets were down in early trading and Asian stock moves were muted.

Here are the four things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. Waiting for the Fed: The U.S. Federal Reserve will release minutes from its July meeting at 2 p.m. ET. This could be one of the biggest market-moving events of the week if there are any surprises in the minutes.

"The question that everyone will be asking is if the Fed is ready to increase the interest rate sooner rather than later," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at foreign exchange broker AvaTrade. "Some hawkish members have certainly started beating the drums of an early increase."

2. Expect earnings: A number of major American retailers are reporting Wednesday.

Target (TGT), American Eagle (AEO), Lowe's (LOW), and Staples (SPLS) will report earnings before the opening bell. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and L Brands (LB), the firm that owns Victoria's Secret, will report after the close.

Shares in Lowe's were edging up by about 2% in advance of the earnings announcement.

Related: Fear & Greed Index

3. Betting on beer: Carlsberg (CABGY) shares were declining by about 3.5% in Europe after the Danish brewer warned that annual profits would fall, rather than grow, due to declining sales in Russia and eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, shares in Heineken (HEINY) were rising by about 6% after the brewer reported first-half results that impressed investors. The company was upbeat about its prospects for the rest of the year.

Related: The 10 most popular beers in the world

4. Tuesday market recap: U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday. The Dow and S&P 500 rose about 0.5% and the Nasdaq ended the day 0.4% higher.

The three major indexes have each rallied by over 2% since the start of August.

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