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Wall Street caution still evident ahead of Fed meeting

Tuesday, 30 Jul 2013 | 6:16 AM ET


U.S. stocks come off yet another day of modest movement, with Fed policymakers set to begin a two-day meeting today. In an indication of just how strong the market has been during July, Monday's nearly 37 point loss for the Dow was its biggest since July 2.


While investors await the Fed's policy statement Wednesday, they'll have a handful of economic reports to consider in the day ahead. The S&P/Case-Shiller report on home prices for May will be out at 9 a.m. ET, with economists looking for a 12.4 percent year-over-year increase in prices for the report's 20-city index.


The Conference Board issues its July Consumer Confidence Index at 10 a.m. ET, with forecasts calling for a reading of 81.5 compared to June's 81.4.


Dow components Merck (MRK) and Pfizer (PFE) lead the list of this morning's corporate earnings reports, with Aetna (AET), Cummins (CMI), Coach (COH), Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Pitney Bowes (PBI), and Waste Management (WM) also among those scheduled to report. Aflac (AFL), Amgen (AMGN), Genworth Financial (GNW), and Symantec (SYMC) are among the companies set to report quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.


Herbalife (HLF) leads our list of stocks to watch, posting second quarter profit of $1.41 per share, well above estimates of $1.18. Revenue also exceeded consensus, as did projected current quarter revenue growth. Herbalife also raised its yearly earnings forecast, citing strong demand for its products.


Health Management Associates (HMA) will be bought by Community Health Systems (CYH) in a deal likely to be announced today, according to CNBC's David Faber. Both companies operate not-for-profit hospitals.


Time Warner Cable (TWC) pulled CBS (CBS) stations from its systems in three markets after the two failed to reach agreement in a fee dispute, but then reversed that decision as the two sides agreed to keep talking.


Anadarko Petroleum (APC) reported second quarter profit of $1.05 per share, excluding certain items, 14 cents above estimates. Anadarko's bottom line was helped by higher natural gas prices.


Express Scripts (ESRX) earned $1.12 per share for the second quarter, excluding certain items, beating estimates by two cents. Revenue also beat consensus, with the pharmacy benefits manager noting growth in its specialty pharmaceutical business. Express Scripts also raised its yearly earnings forecast, and announced that its chief financial officer is departing.


Hartford Financial (HIG) missed estimates by five cents in reporting second quarter profit of 66 cents per share, excluding certain items. The insurance company has been in the process of restructuring its operations to focus on core areas like property-casualty insurance and group benefits.


HCA (HCA) named Milton Johnson as its next chief executive officer. He'll succeed Richard Bracken, who will retire from that post at year's end. Johnson is currently the company's chief financial officer and has been with the hospital operator for 31 years.


Eastman Chemical (EMN) reported second quarter profit of $1.80 per share, excluding certain items, 16 cents above estimates. The chemical company also raised its full year earnings forecast, as it continues to benefit from its 2012 acquisition of chemical maker Solutia.


Spirit Airlines (SAVE) Chairman William Franke is selling his investment firm Indigo's stake in the airline. He'll also resign from its board next month.


Lockheed Martin (LM) has reportedly reached agreement with the Pentagon on a jet order involving 71 F-35 fighter jets, according to Reuters. The deal would be worth more than seven billion dollars.