U.S. Futures pointed to a lower opening bell on Wednesday, as traders wait for the Federal Reserve meeting minutes and potential signs of increased interest rates.

The S&P 500 futures fell over four points or 0.18% to 2,709.25 as of 6:40 AM ET (11:40 GMT) while Dow futures decreased 56 points or 0.22% to 24,892.0. Meanwhile tech heavy Nasdaq 100 futures was down over three and a half points or 0.06% to 6,786.75.

The Federal Reserve is expected to release the minutes of its most recent policy meeting at 2:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT). Investors will pay close attention for signs that rates could increase more than expected.

The Fed is scheduled to hold its next policy meeting on March 20-21, with interest rate futures pricing in an 82% chance of a rate hike at that meeting, according to Investing.com's Fed Rate Monitor Tool.

A recent batch of stronger-than-expected U.S. inflation data has bolstered bets that the Fed could increase interest rates as many as four times this year, more than the three it currently forecasts.

Lloyds Banking Group (LON:LLOY) PLC ADR (NYSE:LYG) was among the biggest gainers in pre-market trading, rising 1.55% after its profits rose 24% over the year. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) inched forward 0.43% after the retailer fell 10% on Tuesday. The owner of America’s largest brick-and-mortar stores reported a huge loss in earnings and online retail sales. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank AG (DE:DBKGn) NA O.N. (NYSE:DB) was up 0.97%.

Elsewhere Shire plc (NASDAQ:SHPG) was down 2.22% while BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) Ltd ADR (NYSE:BHP) decreased 1.70% and Micro Focus International PLC ADR (NYSE:MFGP) dipped 1.41%.

In earnings news, The Wendy’s Co (NASDAQ:WEN), Boston Beer Company Inc (NYSE:SAM), The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) and Roku Inc (NASDAQ:ROKU) are all expected to report their financial results on Wednesday.

In economic news, the flash U.S. composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) is released at 9:45 AM ET (14:45 GMT) followed by existing home sales at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT).

In Europe stocks were mostly down. Germany’s DAX fell 99 points or 0.80% while in France the CAC 40 decreased 20 points or 0.39% and in London, the FTSE 100 was down 13 points or 0.18%. Meanwhile the pan-European Euro Stoxx 50 lost 24 points or 0.70% while Spain’s IBEX 35 slumped 108 points or 1.09%.

In commodities, gold futures inched up 0.02% to $1,331.40 a troy ounce while crude oil futures were down 0.78% to $61.31 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, inched up 0.16% to 89.78.