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Stocks slip ahead of Fed minutes; Target turnaround?; Tesla tumbles

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Stocks are slipping from record highs ahead of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting in October.

Yahoo Finance Columnist Rick Newman points out that there are two competing story lines at the Fed right now.

“If the labor market keeps improving, that gives the Fed reason to tighten; if inflation remains low, that will give the Fed reason to keep the party going a little bit longer," says Newman.

He also doesn’t expect any changes in the Fed’s outlook.  Newman says markets are looking for the first interest rate hike to be somewhere in the middle or third quarter of 2015.

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Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported housing starts unexpectedly fell 2.8% in October, while permits for future projects jumped to their highest level in six-years.

Earnings still grabbing investors' attention. 

It seems Target (TGT) has put its massive data breach that has been haunting the retailer for the past year behind it. The discount retailer reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the third quarter. Revenue rose 2.8% from a year earlier as sales growth in the U.S. improved. Target also said it doesn't expect any future data breach-related expenses to be material.  Shares of Target are higher on the news.

Related: Target tops estimates; Tesla heads in reverse; PetSmart going private?

Investors building up shares of Lowe’s (LOW) in early trading. The home improvement retailer reported third quarter earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street views.  The company also raised its earnings and sales outlook for the year but was cautiously optimistic about the home improvement sector. 

Private equity firms are reportedly lining up to make bids for the PetSmart (PETM).  KKR (KKR)  and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice have joined forces to take the pet supply retailer private in a deal worth more than $7.5 billion according to Reuters. The company said in August it would explore a potential sale after pressure from activist investors. This comes after PetSmart also reported better-than-expected quarterly results. 

Tesla (TSLA) shares headed in reverse this morning.  Morgan Stanley slashed its forecast for deliveries of the new Model X next year by two thirds.  The firm is also cut the electric carmaker's 2015 earnings estimate by 44% to $2.45 from $4.39.  However, Morgan Stanley kept its rating on the stock at overweight, and the price target at $320 a share. 

We're also following Netflix (NFLX) shares.  The Nielsen (NLSN) ratings service will reportedly begin tracking viewership of streaming shows such as “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” beginning next month.  The Wall Street Journal says Nielsen will analyze audio content to determine the number of people watching programs provided by services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Newman thinks this is a big deal for Nielsen.  The rating service has been losing relevance because it doesn't have an effective way to measure what people watch in non-traditional ways. 

Related: Black Friday:  "I'm not dead yet!"

And shoppers may be saying “Bah Humbug” to Black Friday.  Bankrate.com says even though retailers are pulling all stops to lure shoppers the day after Thanksgiving most American may be a no show. It says consumers are fed up with the Black Friday crush.  Its new survey finds only 28% us will actually go into a traditional brick and mortar store the day after Thanksgiving.