Stocks are struggling to find a direction as investors digest Fed minutes

BY THE NUMBERS

Futures were lower this morning as investors absorb the somewhat hawkish tone of Fed minutes. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq haven't been able to post back-to-back gains during October. The Dow has not done so since rising on the first three days of the month. (CNBC)

* Here's what the Street isn't paying attention to from Fed (CNBC)
* China stocks plunge amid growing worries about the economy (Reuters)

Dow component Travelers (TRV) is out with quarterly earnings this morning, as is private equity firm Blackstone (BX). Dow component American Express (AXP) leads this afternoon's list of after-the-bell quarterly earnings reports. (CNBC)

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will speak on monetary policy and the economy this morning in Memphis, Tennessee, while Fed Vice Chairman Randal Quarles participates in a lunchtime event at the New York Economics Club. (CNBC)

The Labor Department is out with its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. At the same time, the Philadelphia Fed will issue its manufacturing index for October. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

President Donald Trump will meet with Mike Pompeo today following the secretary of state's two-day trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Pompeo sought answers on the disappearance and even murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (USA Today)

* A private prod to the Saudis (Axios)
* Audio offers gruesome details of Jamal Khashoggi killing (NY Times)

Another building is stripping Trump off its entrance, the New York Times reported. Residents of Trump Place on Manhattan's Upper West Side of have joined three other buildings in the neighborhood in stripping the brassy five-letter name.

In New York state's 19th District and other swing races, Democrats have run with health care as their top issue. Democrat Antonio Delgado hammered first-term GOP Rep. John Faso over his vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (CNBC)

CNBC has learned that New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has opened a probe into MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson (HMNY). The office is investigating whether it misled the investment community.

CNBC has learned that Beyond Meat has hired J.P. Morgan (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Credit Suisse for an initial public offering. Its current investors include Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack & Suzy Welch and Kleiner Perkins.

Constellation Brands (STX) Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands is stepping down on March 1. He'll remain with the company as executive chairman, and will be succeeded by the spirits maker's president, Bill Newlands. (CNBC)

Uber has raised $2 billion in a junk bond sale, according to the Financial Times, as it gears up for its 2019 stock market debut. It is preparing for an IPO that media reports have noted could value it at more than $100 billion.

Facebook (FB) thinks the hackers who gained access to private information of 30 million user tokens were spammers seeking to make money through deceptive advertising, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing sources.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (PFE) is offering early retirement to U.S. workers ahead of layoffs early next year, CNBC has learned. The company announced the program to workers on Tuesday, according to materials obtained by CNBC.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Visa (V) is raising its quarterly dividend to 25 cents per share from 21 cents, an increase of 19 percent. The increased dividend will be paid on December 4 to shareholders of record as of November 16.

Alcoa (AA) reported adjusted quarterly profit of 63 cents per share, well above the consensus estimate of 36 cents, while the aluminum producer's revenue also came in above forecasts. Alcoa saw higher aluminum prices during the quarter, prompted by supply disruptions, and the company also announced a $200 million stock buyback program.

Sealed Air (SEE) cut its annual earnings forecast, with the industrial gas maker citing a negative impact from currency translation as well as higher costs.

Japanese regulators approved Takeda Pharmaceutical's $62 billion acquisition of British drug maker Shire (SHPG). The deal has already gotten clearance from the U.S., Brazil, and China, and awaits clearance from the European Union.

SAP (SAP) raised its outlook following a 41 percent jump in third quarter cloud revenues. The business software maker now expects revenue growth of 7.5 to 8.5 percent this year, up from the prior range of 6 to 7.5 percent. It also raised the lower end of its profit forecast range. However, some analysts are expressing concern about profit margins.

Novartis (NVS) is buying U.S. drug maker Endocyte (ECYT) for $2.1 billion or $24 per share in cash. That represents a 54 percent premium over Endocyte's Wednesday closing price of $15.56. Endocyte specializes in radiopharmaceutical drugs, which carry radioactive substances directly to cancer cells.

EBay (EBAY) is suing Amazon.com (AMZN), alleging the online retail giant of illegally poaching eBay sellers using its internal messaging system. Amazon said it is investigating the accusation.

WATERCOOLER

One night after the largest jackpot in Mega Millions history rolled to Friday, Powerball's $378 million prize survived to the next drawing. The United States' two big lottery games now have a combined $1.3 billion up for grabs. (USA Today)

WATCH:Five market experts break down how to invest as interest rates spike