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Dow Jones Industrial Average Moving Today Ahead of Fed Minutes Release

Money Morning Contributor

For Nov. 18, 2015, here are your stock market futures, earnings reports, top stock market news, and stocks to watch…

Stock Futures Today

dow jones industrial average
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Wednesday) were up 17 points as investors focus on the 2 p.m. release of the minutes from the October Fed Open Market Committee meeting. In addition, retail earnings reports will lead a busy day of company quarterly updates.

On Tuesday, the Dow gained only six points after a bomb threat in Germany canceled an international soccer match and renewed concerns of terror attacks across Europe. A German official said a bomb attack had been planned in Hanover, where the match was scheduled. The news offset positive earnings reports from retailers.

Top News in the Stock Market Today

  • The Stock Market Today: Investors should keep an eye on weekly crude inventories, which will likely affect oil prices in the wake of geopolitical uncertainty generated by French and U.S. airstrikes in Syria. In addition, investors will want to digest a report on monthly sales and two speeches by members of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
  • Fed Focus: Yesterday’s Consumer Price Index report suggested that inflation increased by 0.2% in October. The news suggests that the U.S. Federal Reserve is more likely to raise interest rates in December. Today, investors will parse through the minutes of last month’s FOMC meeting to seek insight on the Fed’s take on monetary policy; however, given recent geopolitical concerns across Europe and the United States, is the Fed going to change its rate hike forecast?
  • Oil Outlook: This morning, oil prices were on the rise as traders anticipate a week-over-week decline in U.S. inventory levels. December WTI oil prices added 1.7% to hit $41.36 per barrel, while Brent crude prices gained 2.1% to hit $44.50.

Earnings Outlook: LOW, TGT, SINA, CRM, GMCR, NTAP, LB, SPLS, ARMK

  • Earnings Report No. 1, LOW: This morning, Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) reported fiscal third-quarter earnings per share (EPS) of $0.80 on top of $14.36 billion in revenue. The home retailer’s quarterly figures beat Wall Street expectations of earnings of $0.78 per share on top of $14.31 billion in revenue.
  • Earnings Report No. 2, TGT: Before the bell, Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) will report fiscal third-quarter earnings. Wall Street expects that the retail giant will report top-line earnings per share of $0.86 and bottom-line revenue of $17.63 billion. The company is attempting to recover after it slashed 17,600 jobs and closed all of its Canadian locations.
  • Earnings Report No. 3, SINA: After the bell, look out for third-quarter earnings from SINA Corp. (Nasdaq: SINA). The tech firm is expected to report an EPS of $0.21 on top of $220.4 million in revenue. Last quarter, the company reported a surprise 375% decline in earnings.
  • Additional companies reporting earnings include Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM), Keurig Green Mountain Inc. (Nasdaq: GMCR),  NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB), Staples Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), and Aramark (NYSE: ARMK).

Pre-Market Movers: DIS, NSC, CP, CTXS

  • Pre-Market Movers No. 1, DIS: Shares of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) continue to climb as investors and analysts speculate on the newest installment of the Star Wars franchise. The Hollywood Report said that it expects “The Force Awakens” to shatter box-office records and “hit $1 billion (ticket sales) without blinking.” Here’s our Tech & Defense Specialist Michael A. Robinson’s latest on the future of the Disney stock price.
  • Pre-Market Movers No. 2, NSC: Shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) are in focus on news that Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CP) has proposed a merger between the two railroad companies. No price had initially been revealed by Norfolk Southern, but the firm said that the proposed merger “includes a sizable premium.” Reuters reports that the deal would be worth at least $28.35 billion.
  • Pre-Market Movers No. 3, CTXS: Shares of Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) were ticking up this morning after the company announced plans to slash 1,000 jobs and spin-off its GoToMeeting business. The deal comes after months of pressure from activist investor Elliott Management and a change in company leadership earlier this year.

Today’s U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)

  • MBA Mortgage Applications at 7 a.m.
  • New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley Speaks at 7:30 a.m.
  • Housing Starts at 8:30 a.m.
  • Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations at 10 a.m.
  • EIA Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 a.m.
  • Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Rob Kaplan speaks at 12 p.m.
  • FOMC Minutes at 2 p.m.

What Investors Must Know This Week

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