Retail earnings, Fed minutes, impeachment hearings: 3 things to watch for Wednesday

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 22 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Wiig as Target cashier, Justin Timberlake as Peg during the "Target" skit on May 9, 2009

Here are the most important things to know about Wednesday before you hit the door.

1. Target, Lowe's earnings on deck

Retail earnings are kicking into high gear with Target and Lowe's reporting on Wednesday morning. Their earnings will follow Home Depot and Kohl's disappointing results on Tuesday that caused their stocks to tank.

Kohl's quarterly earnings and sales missed estimates due to an "increasingly competitive promotional environment" and the retailer also slashed its profit outlook for the year. Home Depot cut its 2019 sales forecast and also said it expects same-store sales to be lower than expected this year. Its quarterly sales fell short of expectations while earnings beat.

Wall Street analysts estimate Target earned $1.19 per share in the third quarter, a small increase from an EPS of $1.09 from the same quarter a year ago, according to FactSet. The consensus for Lowe's quarterly earnings is $1.35 per share, compared to an EPS of $1.04 in the third quarter of 2018, according to FactSet.

Macy's is also set to report.

2. How divided is the Fed?

The Federal Reserve is set to release the minutes from its latest policy meeting. The central bank cut interest rates for the third time this year at its October meeting. Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated the moves to ease policy could be nearing a pause, saying central bank officials "see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate."

Within the Fed, there has been disagreement about whether additional cuts are needed. Regional presidents Esther George of Kansas City and Eric Rosengren of Boston again voted against a reduction. Investors will look to the minutes for clues about how divided the Fed is on its policy.

"For the first time in at least ten years we've seen two or more dissents in three straight meetings," Ian Lyngan, BMO's head of U.S. rates, said in a note on Tuesday. "In this context, the Minutes on Wednesday will be informative as to how widespread the support for the current stance of policy actually is, or isn't."

3. Impeachment hearings heat up

The House Intelligence Committee's public hearings in the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings resume on Thursday.

Three witnesses are scheduled to testify in two separate hearings: Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, and David Hale, undersecretary of State for political affairs.

Former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker and National Security Council official Tim Morrison testified on Tuesday. Volker, Energy Sec. Rick Perry and Sondland, have been referred to as the "three amigos" in prior closed-door testimony. Trump allegedly directed Volker and Sondland to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to persuade Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Major events (all times ET):

7:00 a.m. MBA Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey

10:30 a.m. EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report

2:00 p.m. Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes

Major earnings:

Target (before the bell)

Lowe's (before the bell)

L Brands (after the bell)