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U.S. stocks unsteady as investors await Fed

Fed-focused investors are hoping to get some clues from today's release of the most recent FOMC minutes, although an increasing number are convinced the central bank will begin tapering its bond-buying program at its September meeting. The major averages come off a mixed session which saw the S&P 500 and Nasdaq edge higher, but the Dow falling for the fifth day in a row for the first time this year.


The FOMC minutes will be released at 2 p.m. ET, though the Street will have a few other numbers to ponder ahead of that time. The National Association of Realtors issues existing home sales for July at 10 a.m. ET, with economists looking for a 1.4 percent increase to an annual rate of 5.15 million units. In June, existing home sales had fallen 1.2 percent.


At 7 a.m. ET, the Mortgage Bankers Association will be out with its weekly look at mortgage applications, and at 10:30 a.m. ET, the Energy Department will have its once-a-week look at oil and gasoline inventories.


Retailers once again dominate this morning's earnings reports, with Target (TGT), Lowe's (LOW), Staples (SPLS), and PetSmart (PETM) all out with quarterly numbers, along with food producer J.M. Smucker (SJM). Dow component Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) leads today's list of after-the-bell reports, joined by retailer L Brands (LTD), the company formerly known as Limited.


Goldman Sachs (GS) leads our list of stocks to watch, as a source tells CNBC that a Tuesday trading glitch could cost Goldman $100 million or more. The glitch resulted in a large number of erroneous single stock and ETF options trades, although many of them may be canceled.


Intuit (INTU) matched estimates by reporting a breakeven fourth quarter. Revenue beat consensus, but the producer of financial software is also predicting a larger than expected fiscal first quarter loss, along with revenue that's shy of Street estimates. The company's results have been hit by an increase in selling and marketing expenses. Intuit also raised its quarterly dividend 12 percent.


Analog Devices (ADI) earned 57 cents per share for its third quarter, excluding certain items, three cents above estimates. The chipmaker saw lower operating costs and improved profit margins during the quarter.


La-Z-Boy (LZB) reported fiscal first quarter profit of 18 cents per share, beating estimates by three cents, with revenue slightly shy of analyst forecasts. The furniture maker did see both sales and profit margins improve during the quarter.


Quest Diagnostics (DGX) has increased its stock buyback program by $1 billion, bring the program total to $1.3 billion.


Royal Caribbean's (RCL) Celebrity Cruises line canceled the remainder of an Alaskan cruise aboard its Millennium ship due to mechanical issues, and has also canceled cruises on that ship scheduled to depart on each of the next four Fridays. Passengers aboard the most recent cruise will receive full refunds, a free future cruise, and the price of air travel home.


Office Depot (ODP) has resolved a dispute with its largest shareholder, Starboard Value, by allowing three Starboard nominees seats on its board of directors. Starboard holds a 14.6 percent stake in the office supplies retailer.


JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is close to naming two new directors to its board, according to Reuters. The board has not voted on the candidates, with the story saying a decision is likely in September.