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Taper Talk on Table as FOMC Meeting Begins; Ripples from London Whale; Holiday Shopping Concern

Hot Stock Minute

Tapering is on the table as Fed chair Ben Bernanke begins a long-awaited, highly-anticipated FOMC meeting. The meeting itself will stretch over two days. It will be followed at 2pm tomorrow by the release of meeting announcements. Then at 2:30 Bernanke will hold his press conference. The major issue will of course be a likely taper in the Fed's asset purchase program. So, how big of a taper should we expect? And how should traders prepare for tomorrow's announcement? Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli has more in the video above.

There's motion on both sides of the ocean stemming from the London Whale trading scandal. The Wall Street Journal says JPMorgan (JPM) is trying to reach an agreement with regulators both here and in the U.K. Under a proposed deal JPM would pay more than $800-million in penalties. Also of significance, it would admit wrongdoing. By the way two former JPMorgan traders were indicted yesterday for their roles in the Whale trades, which cost the bank $6.2-billion. As of yesterday's close JPMorgan stock is up 19% year-to-date.

Citigroup (C) must pay a Florida couple more than $3-million for bad advice. One of Citi's broker's steered the couple to invest in a politician's real estate developments which later went broke. A securities arbitration panel says the bank was at fault for failing to properly supervise the broker. By the way, he now works for Wells Fargo. Citigroup stock is up 24% since the start of 2013.

There's at least one prediction that we're in for a ho-hum holiday shopping season. ShopperTrak is estimating retail sales will rise just 2.4% in November and December from last year. Compare that to the 3% increase which took place in 2012, and the 4% gains in 2010 and 2011. It should be noted however that consulting firm Alix Partners expects holiday sales will rise 4.1% and 4.9% this year.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Outerwall (OUTR) has been down as much as 20% since the end of yesterday's regular session. This is the company formerly known as Coinstar. It also operates those Redbox movie-rental kiosks. Shares tumbled after the company lowered its outlook citing weak rentals over the summer. Business has actually been up about 14% year-over-year, but that's because of aggressive discounts. Prior to the losses we're seeing now, Outerwall is up about 9% over the past year. It touched its 52-week high at the end of July.

Adobe (ADBE) reports after today's closing bell. The company is expected to post earnings of $1.01 a share, down from $1.08 on revenue that has also fallen. Nevertheless RBC has an outperform on the stock and UBS is reiterating a buy. Key in the results will be how the company's subscription service is going. Also of interest: developments since Adobe's acquisition of marketing tech firm Neolane in June. Adobe shares have climbed 44% over the past year.

Already reporting this morning is fragrance maker Coty (COTY), out with its first earnings report since going public in June. Coty is posting adjusted profits of 3-cents a share when expectations were for 1-cent. Revenue was also slightly above consensus. Coty is citing strength in brands including Marc Jacobs, Chloe and Playboy as well as newer entrant, Lady Gaga's Fame. It did however see declines in skin and body care products. Coty shares are down about 6% from their original offering price of $17.50.

Finally, Pandora (P) has been down more than 5%. The streaming service is warning that growth has slowed down. Meantime, it is also proposing a follow-on offering of 10-million shares. Pandora stock hit an all-time high last Thursday, and even with this morning's losses, shares are up about 150% so far this year.

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