The minutes from the Federal Reserve meeting will be released this afternoon and stocks are treading water ahead of the release.
The words will be picked apart by investors to see whether an interest rate increase is on the horizon. Right now, the market is pricing in an almost 70 percent chance of a rate hike in December according to the fed funds futures market. The rising strength of the dollar has added to the chance of a rate hike.
The S&P 500 is up by 3 points to 2,139, the Dow Jones Industrial average is rising by 17 points to trade at 18,146 and the Nasdaq I slipping by 1 point to 5,246. The S&P retail ETF is adding 33 cents to sell at $43.72.
Wells Fargo has upgraded Under Armour Inc. to outperform from market perform and raised the target price range to $44-$46 from $39-$42. The analyst noted that noise from the Sports Authority bankruptcy was subsiding. Separately, Vetr Inc. analysts downgraded Under Armour from a strong buy to just a buy rating. The stock is popping over 1 percent in early trading to $38.56.
Levi Strauss & Co. reported an increase in both sales and profits for the third quarter. The private company said that net profits increased 69 percent to $98.3 million from $58.2 million a year earlier as the company posted better sales. Revenues for the three months ended Aug. 28 increased 3.8 percent to $1.19 billion from $1.14 billion, but was up about 5 percent excluding currency fluctuations. Sales in the Americas rose 1.5 percent to $724 million, as turnover in Europe jumped 9.3 percent to $283 and revenues in Asia increased 5.3 percent to $179 million. The company did say that the wholesale business was challenged by traffic declines at retailers.
Vera Bradley, Inc. told customers that it experienced a payment card incident at its stores between July 25 and September 23 this year. Not all cards were affected and the breach did not affect online sales. Vera Bradley launched an investigation and notified the payment card networks. The investigation showed that there was unauthorized access to the retailer’s payment processing system and there was a program installed that looked for payment card data. The stock is falling 2 percent to $14.20.
Stanley Black and Decker Inc. is acquiring the tools business of Newell Brands. Sears Holdings Corporation was energized last week when there were reports that Black and Decker was interested in Sears’ Craftsman brand of tools. Now that it looks like Sears won’t be saved by selling its tools business, the stock is falling again. Sears’s stock is falling over 1 percent to $10.91, while Stanley Black & Decker is rising almost 2 percent to $119.83.