Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
According to stock index futures as of 7:35 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) will only be able to muster a one-point rise to start today's trading session.
World markets ticked down overnight as investors took their positions before the Federal Reserve's key meeting next week, in which it may decide to begin slowing its bond-buying stimulus program.
It's still anybody's guess exactly how the Fed will react to the recent murky economic data. A Wall Street Journal survey of economists this morning found that 66% expect the Fed to begin "tapering" next week. However, that's "less of a consensus than usually precedes Fed moves," according to the Journal. The price for that uncertainty should be volatility over the next few trading sessions, which long-term investors can ignore as they focus on company fundamentals.
With that in mind, here are a few stock stories to watch for in today's market.
JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE: JPM ) legal bills are set to rise. The bank is adding $2.5 billion to its litigation reserves, which should push those expenses to more than $20 billion since the start of the financial crisis -- more than any of its rivals. JPMorgan also plans to bulk up its risk-control spending with more than $1.5 billion in additional compliance and risk-management expenses, bringing the total new outlay to $4 billion. CEO Jamie Dimon told The Wall Street Journal, "This is a huge investment of people, time and money ... but it will make us stronger in the long run." The stock is slightly higher in premarket trading.
United National Foods (NASDAQ: UNFI ) is on the rise after the organic-food company reported a 22% bounce in revenue and a 13% rise in profit for the quarter that just ended. As Whole Foods Market's primary supplier, United National has benefited from the rising demand for natural and organic products. It expects that trend to continue, forecasting a 10% to 15% rise in profit over the next year to about $2.45 per share. United National's stock is up 4% in premarket trading.
Finally, the beauty retail business is doing just fine. Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ: ULTA ) reported a 25% jump in revenue for the second quarter and a strong 8.4% rise in comparable sales. Gross profit also inched higher to 35.3%. A lot of things are going right for Ulta Beauty lately, including new branded boutiques, an expanded loyalty program, and spiking e-commerce sales. It has also been adding stores at a torrid pace, expanding its footprint by more than 20% in the last year. The stock is up almost 14% in premarket trading.
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