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Target earnings, Fed minutes — What you need to know in markets on Wednesday

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

Stocks are at an all-time high. Again.

After last hitting a record in January the benchmark S&P 500 hit a record intraday high on Tuesday, breaking through at 12:52 p.m. ET to hit 2,873.23. Ultimately stocks settled below this record, with the Dow adding 0.2%, the S&P 500 adding 0.2%, and the Nasdaq gaining about 0.5%.

The S&P 500 officially settled at 2,862.96, about ten points below its all-time record closing high.

But expect stock market milestones to be a major point of discussion on Wednesday as Wednesday will mark the 3,453rd day since the last 20% decline, officially making this the longest bull market run on record.

Of course, the S&P 500 did decline 19.4% in the summer of 2011 and since the March 2009 bottom there have been plenty of nervous periods for investors. But without entering the (admittedly arbitrary) definition of a bear market comprised of a 20% decline from peak-to-trough, this market run enters the record books.

Now turning to the calendar for Wednesday, on the economic data side the biggest highlight will be the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, set for release at 2:00 p.m.ET.

Following that meeting, the Fed kept interest rates on hold and upgraded its assessment of the U.S. economy, using the word “strong” three times to describe employment, business investment, and household spending. Wednesday’s release will almost certainly make no mention of recent commentary from President Trump about the Fed’s recent interest rate increases.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell testifies during a House Committee on Financial Services hearing, Wednesday, July 18, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The July report on existing home sales will also be released on Wednesday morning.

And on the earnings side, the notable retail names report results should include Target (TGT), Lowe’s (LOW), and L Brands (LB).

Target’s results will be closely watched with Wall Street looking for same-store sales that rose 3.9% during the second quarter. Over the last year shares of Target are up more than 45%.

Investors will also likely spend much of the day fixated on blockbuster news out of the political world that broke late Tuesday.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer ahead of the 2016 election, plead guilty to eight criminal charges including tax and bank fraud charges. As Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman outlines, two of these charges relate directly to Trump, with his hush-money payments to two women violating campaign finance laws with Cohen telling the judge he acted “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was also found guilty Tuesday of 8 counts brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller, with these counts potentially carrying 80 years behind bars.

Following these developments, stock futures were lower having wiped out most of the gains from Tuesday’s session.

And though developments related to potential legal risks to Trump haven’t been market movers in some time, these more concrete developments will at least be taken note of by investors, if perhaps not acted upon.

President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at the White House in Washington, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, after spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland