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Fed's FOMC Minutes In Focus

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More retailers are reporting quarterly earnings results as calendar Q1 earnings season finally puts itself in the books. Plus, we look forward to parsing through the released minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which had decided not to raise — or lower — interest rates at its latest meeting.

But first, Qualcomm (QCOM - Free Report)  shares are falling 10% in today’s pre-market on a new ruling from a federal district court judge, saying the chips and components maker violated anti-trust law. The judge ruled that Qualcomm used its enormous leverage in the chips business in a way inconsistent with legal dictates. Qualcomm is seeking n immediate stay on the ruling, followed by an appeal on the ruling.

Even though Qualcomm had recently come out on the good side of a litigation ruling with Apple (AAPL - Free Report) , this latest judicial decision puts a new bump in the road for the company. The court case had finished early this year, and the court took months to reach a decision — interestingly, right in the midst of the U.S.’s non-judicial indictment of Chinese communications giant Huawei. Consider this a tech-stock soap opera just getting started.

Target (TGT - Free Report)  shares are up 7% in today’s pre-market on $1.53 per share, which beat estimates by a full dime, on quarterly sales up 5% year over year. Its 4.8% comps came in at an impressive 4.8%, assisting the narrative that retailers in a particular realm of lower-to-mid price points has performed well this quarter, like TJX and Walmart. 

Lowe’s (LOW - Free Report) , on the other hand, has tumbled 9% in today’s pre-market, following an earnings report of $1.22 per share, down from the $1.33 in the Zacks consensus. Comps were up in the quarter — to 3% from the 2% expected — but full year EPS was cut by more than 50 cents per share. 

Advance Auto Parts (AAP - Free Report)  outperformed estimates this morning, putting up $2.46 per share versus $2.36 expected and $2.10 in the year-ago quarter. Revenues of $2.95 billion topped the Zacks consensus modestly. Shares are up 2.5% in today’s pre-market. 

Regarding expectations from the minutes on the latest FOMC meeting, focus will be on how many voting members are favoring an interest rate cut to be the body’s next move on interest rate policy. This would surely be what President Trump is looking for: even with 3% GDP growth and near-50-year-low unemployment, the president wants to see the Fed make rates cheaper for longer.

The Fed has not raised since its December meeting, when it bumped up rates a fourth time for the year, to a range of 2.50-2.75%. In his latest press conference, from the first of this month, Fed Chair Jerome Powell cited a “transitory” inflation decline. But do other FOMC members think low inflation is persistent? This could be a clue to the next Fed move.