Stock Market Today: Citigroup’s $7 Billion Charge and MSC Industrial’s Miss

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has gained 10 points in pre-market trading, suggesting a flat start to the stock market after yesterday's triple-digit retreat.

Earnings season is ramping up, but today's market-moving news will likely come from the Federal Reserve rather than a public company. The Fed is scheduled to release minutes from its June monetary policy meeting at 2 p.m. EDT, and that update could shed light on when, and how, the central bank might finally begin raising interest rates from the 0% mark in place since 2009.

Meanwhile, news is breaking this morning on and Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) and MSC Industrial Direct (NYSE: MSM  ) stocks, which could both see heavy trading in today's session.

Citigroup is on the hook for as much as $7 billion in penalties to settle government legal claims regarding its past mortgage practices, according to several news reports today. A price tag for any penalty that runs into the billions wouldn't be a surprise, but $7 billion is higher than most analysts had expected. It would also represent more than half of the $13.7 billion the bank earned through all of 2013. Still, investors should be relieved if Citigroup avoids a federal lawsuit, which company executives told The Wall Street Journal would likely be a "long, expensive process and a public-relations nightmare," even if the bank eventually won. The stock was unchanged in pre-market trading.

MSC Industrial today posted a 13% sales improvement for its fiscal third quarter, though the $720.5 million it booked in revenue was below the $727 million that analysts were expecting. Still, the metalworking tools producer hit profit targets right on the nose: earnings landed at $1.06 per share, a slight increase from the prior year's result. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kaczka said in a press release that those figures put the company "on-track" to deliver on its 2014 profit goals. Sales growth plans are also "progressing well and on schedule," Kaczka said. MSC updated its outlook for its fourth quarter, which now calls for revenue of roughly $725 million and profit of about $1 a share. Those targets were a tad below Wall Street's projections of $728 million in sales and EPS of $1.07. The stock was down 2.8% in pre-market trading.

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