Wall Street struggles to read between the lines
Investors apparently consider the Fed's latest policy meeting minutes perfectly unclear, and reacted as they often do to uncertainty, with another selloff. Wednesday's losses left the Dow at its lowest close since June 25, with the S&P 500 at its lowest since July 8. It also leaves the major averages on track for a third consecutive weekly loss, barring a rally during the week's last two trading days.
The Labor Department's weekly report on initial jobless claims is the most prominent set of data out today, with economists expecting first-time claims of 330,000 compared to the prior week's 320,000. That report will be out at 8:30 a.m. ET.
At 10 a.m. ET, the Conference Board will release its July Index of Leading Economic Indicators, seen rising 0.6 percent after an unchanged performance in June.
At 10:30 a.m. ET, the Energy Department will release its weekly look at natural gas inventories.
Retailers are once again prominent in this morning's earnings reports, with Sears (SHLD), Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Dollar Tree (DLTR), and Gamestop (GME) all on the calendar, along with Hormel Foods (HRL). They'll also be evident in today's after-the-bell reports, with numbers from Gap (GPS), Aeropostale (ARO), and Ross Stores (ROST), as well as Autodesk (ADSK), and Pandora (P).
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) leads our list of stocks to watch, with the technology giant reporting fiscal third quarter profit of 86 cents per share, matching estimates. However, HP also gave a downbeat forecast for the full year, and CEO Meg Whitman said previously expected revenue growth in 2014 is unlikely to materialize. Whitman, who also announced a shuffle of some key executives, will be a guest on CNBC's Squawk On The Street at 9 a.m. ET.
L Brands (LTD) reported second quarter profit of 61 cents per share, excluding certain items, beating estimates by a penny. The retailer is predicting current quarter profit short of Street estimates, but at the same time raised its full year guidance.
Hain Celestial (HAIN) earned 65 cents per share for its fiscal fourth quarter, three cents above estimates, with revenue beating consensus as well. The maker of organic products also announced that Stephen Smith will take over as chief financial officer, leaving a similar position at Elizabeth Arden (RDEN).
Wells Fargo (WFC) is cutting 2,300 jobs in its mortgage lending jobs, because of a slowdown in refinancing activity.
Eli Lilly (LLY) said it is "deeply concerned" about bribery allegations published in China's 21st Century Business Herald. The article quotes a former senior manager as saying that the practice was widespread at the drug maker's China unit.
Royal Caribbean (RCL) could see as much as 14 cents shaved off its quarterly earnings due to the cancellation of five cruises on its Celebrity Millennium ship, according to a UBS analyst report.
Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) is giving possible buyers access to trial data on its blood cancer drug Kyprolis, according to Reuters. Onyx is currently in talks with Amgen to be bought for $130 per share.
Men's Wearhouse (MW) is a possible buyout target, reportedly from its ousted founder, George Zimmer. According to Women's Wear Daily, Zimmer is trying to put a team together to make a bid for the clothing retailer. Zimmer currently holds 3 to 5 percent of Men's Wearhouse.