Day Ahead: FedEx Snowbound

 | Mar 19, 2014 | 8:45 AM EDT
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It's Fed day, and stock futures point to a positive open Wednesday morning ahead of the central bank's policy announcement.

On this final full day of winter, Wall Street will be paying attention to the Federal Open Markets Committee for any indications that the severe weather has in any way affected the overall economy, and for word of any more plans to roll back the Fed's bond-buying program. Chair Janet Yellen will hold her first press conference today at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Earnings also grabbed the attention of Wall Street as the tough weather struck again, this time preventing shipper and economic bellwether FedEx (FDX) from delivering profit and sales results that met analysts' expectations. Elsewhere, Action Alerts PLUS component General Mills (GIS) also missed profit and sales estimates, which the food conglomerate had warned investors of last week.

Late Tuesday, a pair of software giants delivered earnings. Adobe Systems (ADBE) said fiscal first-quarter earnings slid from a year earlier, but the software maker still bested analysts' profit and sales expectations. And Oracle (ORCL) fell short of profit forecasts, pressured in the fiscal third quarter by growing competition from rivals like (CRM). Shares fell in premarket trading. Separately, teen retailer Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) posted a better-than-expected quarterly loss.

After the close look for quarterly results from Coldwater Creek (CWTR), Guess? (GES), Herman Miller (MLHR) and Jabil Circuit (JBL).

In economic news, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said the U.S. trade deficit narrowed slightly in the third quarter, to $94.8 billion, from a downwardly revised $96.6 billion in the previous quarter.

Among ratings changes, Barclays upgraded shares of Gannett (GCI) to Equal Weight; Citi raised Transocean (RIG) to Neutral; and Goldman Sachs downgraded Orbitz (OWW) to Sell and upgraded Teva (TEVA) to Neutral.

Stocks to watch today include Nu Skin (NUS), which disclosed that it faces potential fines by Chinese regulators for allegedly conducting business illegally in that country. The news sent shares lower in early trading. The maker of personal-care products has been red-flagged by Reality Check's Herb Greenberg.

Toyota (TM) has reportedly reached a tentative billion-dollar settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, potentially ending a four-year investigation into the Japanese automaker's forthrightness about instances of unintended acceleration in its vehicles and a subsequent massive recall.

Also, Reuters is reporting that charitable trust holding JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has agreed to sell its physical commodities unit for $2.5 billion to Mercuria, a group led by two former Goldman Sachs executives.

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