A new stock market theme has developed over the last week: consistent inconsistency. The Dow has had four triple-digit moves in the past five sessions, two positive and two negative, as investors grapple with the idea that the Fed may begin to phase out its accommodative monetary policy sooner rather than later. Monday's Dow gain was its biggest in exactly one month.
With the Fed in focus, the markets are paying extra attention to any speeches by central bank officials, with two on the agenda for today. Kansas City Fed President Esther George has a speech in Sante Fe today at 1:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. MT, while Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher has an evening speech in Canada.
April's trade deficit figures represent the only government economic data out today, with the 8:30 a.m. ET report expected to show a trade gap of $41.5 billion compared to a $38.8 billion shortfall in March.
Retailer Dollar General (DG) is among the few companies set to report quarterly earnings this morning, with Mattress Firm Holdings (MFRM) on a short list of after-the-bell releases.
Dow Transportation component FedEx (FDX) is among our stocks to watch this morning, as it raises its quarterly dividend by a penny to $0.15 per share. FedEx also announced an acceleration of its aircraft fleet modernization, choosing to retire a number of its jets earlier than previously planned.
General Motors (GM) will be added to the S&P 500 after the closing of trading Thursday, replacing H.J. Heinz (HNZ). Heinz is being bought by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A, BRK/B) and 3G Capital.
AIG (AIG) is replacing Baker Hughes (BHI) in the S&P 100 index, with S&P citing the drop in the oilfield service company's market cap below the $21 billion mark. Separately, AIG has been designated as "systemically important" and subject to increased regulatory oversight, along with Prudential Financial (PRU) and General Electric's (GE) GE Capital unit.
Dell (DELL) CEO Michael Dell saw his pay cut by 14 percent to $13.9 million last year, as personal computer sales slumped. The majority of Dell's compensation consisted of stock awards, with his salary remaining unchanged at $950,000.
AstraZeneca (AZN) has dropped development of its rheumatoid arthritis pill known as fostamatinib, after disappointing results in a late stage trial. AstraZeneca will take a $140 million charge, but the bigger impact may be on Rigel Pharmaceuticals (RIGL), the U.S. firm that struck a licensing deal for the drug with AstraZeneca three years ago.
Calpers, the nation's largest public pension fund, is selling its four percent stake in Carlyle Group (CG). Calpers had acquired a 5.5 percent stake back in 2001 for $175 million, well before Carlyle's 2012 initial public offering, and the stake is now worth $373 million.
Lululemon's (LULU) Astro and Groove yoga pants are starting to reappear in stores, three months after they had been recalled because the fabric was considered too sheer.
Walt Disney (DIS) has raised theme park prices, with a one-day adult ticket at Disneyland now at $92, a five dollar increase. Tickets for children are also higher by five dollars at $87.