Talk, talk, talk. And now the likelihood of action. Today's the day the Fed is likely to announce a taper in its asset purchase program which was designed to assist the economy. The central bank set to release its policy statement at 2pm following the conclusion of a two-day meeting. Then half an hour later, Chairman Ben Bernanke will take a seat in front of reporters and answer questions about the statement. Pimco's Bill Gross tweeted yesterday, "Tomorrow will be volatile one way or the other. Expect lower yields for 1-5 year Treasuries." So, what exactly should we expect this afternoon, other than the need for some Pepto? yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task has more in the video above.
Breaking news: Numbers on housing starts released right as we started streaming live to you at 8:30. The Commerce Department says housing starts hit an annual pace of 891,000 during August. The consensus had been for 916,000 homes annually. The July figure was 896,000.
There's a modern-day twist on the shoemaker's children going barefoot. Workers at Walgreens (WAG) will no longer get prescription coverage directly from the pharmacy giant. Parent Company Walgreen. will announce today that it's ending health care coverage for its workers next year. Instead, employees will be given money to buy their own insurance. The company cites rising health care costs and the new health care law for the change. By the way, Walgreen stock hit an all-time on Monday. It's up 44% this year.
Starbucks (SBUX) wants to make sure the only shots inside its coffee houses come from the espresso machine. CEO Howard Schultz is asking customers not to bring firearms into any of the chains 7,000 locations nationwide. The move comes amid a push from gun-control advocates. Until now Starbucks stayed out of the fray, deferring to local laws. Starbucks stock hit an all-time high Tuesday. It's up 38% this year.
STOCKS TO WATCH
FedEx (FDX) is up 3% after coming out with an earnings beat at 7:30am. The shipper posted profits of $1.53 a share when expectations were for $1.50. Revenue was also higher than expected at $11.02-billion when estimates were for $10.968-billion. FedEx credits the beat to cost-cutting. Moving forward, the company says it could benefit from shipments of new products like the iPhone. It's also revealing plans to start raising rates in 2014. It's worth noting, FedEx had its worst day of the year when it reported earnings back on March 19th. But the company has soared since then, and is up 18% year-to-date.
Also reporting this morning was cereal maker General Mills (GIS). The breakfast behemoth matched on earnings at 70-cents a share. As for revenues, they were higher than expectations at $4.37-billion versus $4.29-billion. It should be noted that earnings were down 16% from a year ago. The company has been struggling with weak sales in the U.S. but is acquiring companies overseas to boost overall business. By the way, Jefferies downgraded the stock just days ago saying it's overpriced. As for that price, it hit an all-time high above 52-dollars last month, and despite a bit of a pullback, remains up 20% year-to-date.
Oracle (ORCL) reports after the closing bell. Here's a stock that has been underperforming, down about 4% this year. Analysts are looking for earnings of 56-cents a share, up 3-cents from a year ago. Expectations are for a 3% climb in revenue to nearly $8.5-billion. Analysts are generally bullish on Oracle. 20 of them rate the company as a buy and just one says sell. Over the last four quarters, Oracle has seen its sales rise by an average of 9% year-over-year.
Electronic Arts (EA) has just named Andrew Wilson its next C-E-O after a six-month search. Wilson has worked at the company for 13 years, so his selection suggests the company wishes to stay the course despite massive shifts in the industry. Then again why not? The stock is up 97% over the past year, ahead of the launch of new gaming consoles.