The major U.S. stock averages are coming off four straight days of gains, with the S&P 500 now at its highest since May 30. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had not risen for four straight days since the end of April. Today's fortunes will undoubtedly rest on Fed-related matters, with FOMC minutes and a Ben Bernanke speech both ahead today.
The minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve policy meeting are set for release at 2 p.m. ET, while Bernanke's speech takes place after the close at 4:10 pm. ET. He'll speak in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at a conference held by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The only government economic report out today comes at 10 a.m. ET, with wholesale trade figures for May set for release. Wholesale inventories are expected to post a rise of 0.4 percent after a 0.2 percent increase in April.
The Mortgage Bankers Association is out with its weekly look at mortgage applications at 7 a.m. ET, while the Energy Department will release its usual Wednesday report on oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.
The Treasury will sell $21 billion in 10-year notes, with the results of that sale available shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Yields at recent auctions have been coming in at their highest levels in two years.
Family Dollar Stores (FDO) will be among our stocks to watch today, as it issues its latest quarterly earnings later this morning.
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was upgraded to "buy" from "sell" at Citigroup, with Citi pointing to increasing benefits from cost savings in the second half of the year, as well as increasing momentum from HP's services segment.
AIG (AIG), as expected, is among the non-banks designated as systemically important by the Financial Stability Oversight Council. AIG issued a statement saying it expected this designation and welcomes it. General Electric's (GE) GE Capital unit received the same designation, while another unnamed company, assumed to be Prudential Financial (PRU), received a hearing on its request for an appeal as it seeks to avoid that designation.
Nabors Industries (NBR) said its second quarter profit would fall short of Street estimates. The oil services provider points to tougher competition and fewer rentals of its rigs.
Nu Skin (NUS) raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the current quarter and the fiscal year, pointing to sales gains in the China, North Asia, and the Americas. The maker of skin care products now sees second quarter earnings of $1.20 per share compared to its prior guidance of $0.91 - $0.95.
BlackBerry (BBRY) is planning more job cuts on top of the five thousand it laid off in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal.
DirecTV (DTV), AT&T (T) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) are the remaining bidders for Hulu, according to All Things D. DirecTV and a partnership between AT&T and media executive Peter Chernin want to purchase all of the video service, while Time Warner Cable seeks a minority stake.
Smithfield Foods (SFD) CEO Larry Pope will be questioned by senators today, amid concerns about the recent deal to sell the pork producer to China's Shuanghui International.
Helen of Troy (HELE) reported quarterly profit of $0.82 per share, excluding certain items, 11 cents above estimates. The personal care products maker has warned in recent months that its results could be hurt this year by a tough retail environment.