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Investors cautious ahead of Fed minutes; Pay-to-play at the Super Bowl halftime show? Can back-to-school season boost retailers?

Hot Stock Minute

The minutes of last month’s Federal Reserve meeting will be released later today. Investors will be keeping a close eye on what the Fed has to say about the labor market. The release comes ahead of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech at the Kansas City Fed’s Jackson Hole conference on Friday. The Fed minutes will be released at 2p.m. Eastern today.

A couple of retailers reported earnings indicating they are struggling. Staples (SPLS) beat on both earnings and revenue, but the latter was down nearly 2% compared to a year earlier. The company said sales could fall in the current quarter as it continues to struggle with competition from big box and online retailers. Meanwhile, Target (TGT) lowered its outlook for the year as it reported that it missed earnings estimates by a penny, but beat on revenue by about $30 million.

While many retailers are strugging, they may be getting a boost from back-to-school shoppers. The back-to-school season is second only to the holiday season as the biggest of the year. While it’s only just started, retailers like Macy’s (M), Kohl’s (KSS), and Wal-Mart (WMT) are indicating this year’s back-to-school season is proving to be a positive one for them. 

We want to hear from you. Are you spending more or less on back-to-school shopping compared to last year? Vote in our poll, and leave a comment below or on Twitter.

Credit-reporting agency TransUnion reported that late payments for mortgages fell to a six-year low in the second quarter of this year. The percentage of people at least two months behind on their mortgages was 3.46%, down from 3.61% in the first quarter of this year, and down from 4.32% in the the second quarter last year.

It might cost performers to play at the Super Bowl. The NFL reportedly asked at least some of the three prospective performers for its Super Bowl halftime show - Rihanna, Katy Perry and Coldplay - to contribute some of their tour income after the show or some other contribution if they're chosen to perform at the game. According to the Wall Street Journal, the suggestion got a “chilly” reception from representatives of the artists. The NFL told the Journal that contracts with the performers are confidential and made no announcement about who the halftime performer would be.