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 7:40 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) will open flat this morning, falling a negligible two points to start the trading session. Things were relatively quiet on global exchanges overnight, and stocks in Europe and Asia were little changed.
Investors will get a new reading on home sales at 10 a.m. EDT. The U.S. Census report is expected to show a continuing housing recovery, with new homes selling at an annual rate of 400,000 -- about equal to last month's pace. While that's much improved from the lows set in 2011, housing has a long way to recover yet.
Health care stocks will also be in focus today as prices for the new government-run health care exchanges are released. The pricing represents a big shift for insurers, who no longer have as much flexibility to set prices based on pre-existing conditions, age, or smoking status.
With those bigger trends in mind here are a few individual stock stories to watch for in today's market.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) is prepared to pay billions to settle its legal and regulatory woes. The nation's biggest bank by assets is in talks to hand over $3 billion to conclude state and federal regulatory investigations into its marketing of mortgage-backed securities, according to The Wall Street Journal. The New York Times reports that the total figure could climb as high as $7 billion, though, and may include some "financial relief for struggling homeowners." While the high end of that range is above JPMorgan's net income for the entire second quarter, the steep cost might be worth it if it frees the company from years of legal drama. Shares are slightly lower in premarket trading.
Outside the Dow, AutoZone (NYSE: AZO ) reported slightly higher earnings than Wall Street expected this morning. Profit came in at $10.42 per share, 23% higher than last year and $0.09 better than analysts had forecast. Revenue was up 12% to $3.1 billion, in line with expectations. The auto parts retailer booked its 28th consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth. However, same-store sales growth came in light at just 1%. AutoZone shares are flat in premarket trading.
Finally, Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) unveiled its new tablet lineup this morning, which boasts significant hardware improvements. New Fire HD models will begin at $229 for the 7-inch wifi-only version, going up to $479 for an 8.9-inch 4G option. The tablets also boast some exclusive features, like an on-screen support service that TechCrunch calls "amazing." Amazon's shares are up 0.4% in premarket trading.
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