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Today's Primer Post

Two notable Wall Street winning streaks are at an end - with the S&P 500 coming off its first drop in nine sessions and the Dow posting its first loss in seven trading days. Those losses were modest, however, as investors look ahead to a flood of corporate earnings and a Federal Reserve policy statement tomorrow afternoon.


That Fed meeting is of the two-day variety, getting underway today in Washington, and investors will have a number of economic reports to consider in the interim. The monthly Case-Shiller report on home prices is due at 9 a.m. New York time, with economists looking for a 5.5 percent increase in home prices in November compared to a year earlier.


At 10 a.m., the Conference Board is out with its January consumer confidence index, seen coming in at 64.8, a tad lower than December's 65.1 reading.


The Treasury will sell $35 billion in 5-year notes, with the results of that sales available shortly after 1 p.m.


Dow component Pfizer (PFE) and automaker Ford (F) lead this morning's list of corporate earnings reports, with D.R. Horton (DHI), Corning (GLW), Harley-Davidson (HDI), International Paper (IP), Eli Lilly (LLY), Tyco (TYC) and U.S. Steel (X) also on the schedule. Amazon.com (AMZN) is the most prominent name on today's after-the-bell earnings list, with Broadcom (BRCM) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) also set to report.


Yahoo (YHOO) leads our list of stocks to watch, reporting fourth quarter profit of $0.32 per share, four cents above estimates, with revenues essentially in line. Yahoo's current quarter revenue project is below consensus, but its full year projections are above. Yahoo did benefit from higher ad prices in its first full quarter under CEO Marissa Mayer.


Seagate Technology (STX) earned $1.38 per share for its fiscal second quarter, above estimates of $1.27. Revenues also came in above consensus, with hard disk drive shipments up about 23 percent from a year earlier. However, it does see third quarter revenues below Street estimates.


VMWare (VMW) beat estimates by three cents with fourth quarter profit of $0.81 per share, but its first quarter and full year revenue projections are below Street consensus. The software maker is also cutting 900 jobs as part of a restructuring plan.


BMC Software (BMCS) earned $0.99 per share for its third quarter, two cents below estimates, with revenues also missing consensus, and the business software maker is also forecasting a lower than expected profit for the current fiscal year. It cites fewer license sales at its enterprise and mainframe management businesses.


Plum Creek Timber (PCL) earned $0.49 per share for the fourth quarter, 20 cents above estimates, with revenues also beating consensus by a wide margin. The real estate investment trust – one of the largest private timberland owners - is benefiting from a rebound in housing.


J.C. Penney (JCP) will begin offering targeted discounts, according to an Associated Press report. That would be a change of strategy for Penney, which had stopped discounting under CEO Ron Johnson.


UBS (UBS) will be required to turn over records about certain U.S. taxpayers to the Internal Revenue Service, following a judge's ruling. The IRS wants information about taxpayers who may be holding bank accounts in Switzerland to avoid taxes.


Goldman Sachs (GS) has raised about $1 billion through a sale of part of its stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, according to Dow Jones.