The S&P 500's record "alternation" streak is at an end, with the benchmark index now finally having risen for two consecutive sessions. It had alternated between gains and losses for an unprecedented 14 sessions, but now sits less than two points from last week's record close and about eight points from an all-time intraday high.
Today's most prominent economic event occurs at 2 p.m. ET, when the Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its most recent FOMC meeting. As always, investors will be looking for further clues about when and how the Fed might exit its current accommodative monetary policy. Also out at 2 p.m. ET: the Treasury's March budget statement, expected to show a deficit of $107 billion, compared to a $198.2 billion shortfall in March of 2012.
Weekly reports out today include the Mortgage Bankers Association's look at mortgage applications at 7 a.m. ET, and the Energy Department's assessment of oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.
The Treasury will sell $21 billion in 10-year notes, with the results of that sale available shortly after 1 p.m. ET.
Earnings reports of note this morning include retailer Family Dollar (FDO), Fastenal (FAST), CarMax (KMX), Progressive (PGR), and Constellation Brands (STZ), while Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and Ruby Tuesday (RT) are among the companies set to release quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.
Bank of NY Mellon (BNY) leads our list of stocks to watch, as it raises its quarterly dividend by 15 percent to $0.15 per share. The bank did indicate last month that it would consider such a hike, following the release of bank stress test results.
Health Management Associates (HMA) has cut its 2013 revenue and earnings outlook, with the hospital operator pointing to a drop in patient admissions during the current quarter.
Realogy (RLGY) says its first quarter revenues are likely to come in between $950 million and $960 million, short of Street estimates of $988 million. The operator of real estate agency brands such as Century 21 and Coldwell Banker is, however, seeing a year-over-year improvement as home sales rise.
Electronic Arts (ERTS) has gained the dubious distinction of being named "Worst Company In America" by consumer advocacy website Consumerist. The video game maker won that distinction for the second consecutive year, with voters unhappy with the quality of EA's games as well as server failures following the recent SimCity release.
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) subsidiaries Health Plan of Nevada and Sierra Health Services have been ordered to pay $500 million in punitive damages in a Las Vegas case involving an outbreak of hepatitis. Attorneys for the three plaintiffs had been seeking nearly $2.5 billion in the case.
Life Technologies (LIFE) has reportedly received a binding takeover offer from Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO). Reuters reports that a group of private equity firms are also trying to finalize a bid for the laboratory equipment maker.
Yahoo (YHOO) and Apple (AAPL) are said to be discussing a more prominent role for Yahoo on Apple's iPad and iPhone devices, according to the Wall Street Journal.