Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, Aug. 21:
1. -- Stock Futures Rise as Wall Street Looks to the Fed
U.S. stock futures were higher as Wall Street looked ahead to the release Wednesday of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's meeting in July and a speech Friday from Chairman Jerome Powell.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 162 points, futures for the S&P 500 gained 20.55 points, and Nasdaq futures were up 63 points.
Stocks declined Tuesday, putting an end to the Dow's three-day winning streak, as Wall Street prepared for a flurry of activity from the U.S. central bank.
The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting July 30-31 will be released at 2 p.m. ET. The Federal Reserve's monetary policymaking body voted to lower interest rates for the first time since 2008 at the meeting. Fed-watchers will dissect the minutes hoping to find clues on the U.S. central bank's next move on interest rates.
Powell, meanwhile, is scheduled to speak Friday at an annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The theme of his speech will be "Challenges for Monetary Policy."
Wall Street and President Donald Trump "are anticipating that Mr. Powell will signal that the Federal Reserve is about to embark on a reinvigorated wave of easing, following its global peers," said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda.
"The U.S. data of late simply does not support the need for an aggressive easing cycle. Despite the U.S.-China trade tensions making their presence felt in European and Asian data prints, this has simply not happened with the United States to any significant degree," Halley said.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday also includes Existing Home Sales for July at 10 a.m. ET, and Oil Inventories for the week ended Aug. 16, at 10:30 a.m.
2. -- Trump Says He's Considering a Payroll Tax Cut
Donald Trump said he's looking at cutting payroll taxes for Americans or other levies as a way to boost a U.S. economy that some experts fear is lurching toward recession.
"Payroll tax is something we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that, and that very much affects the workers of our country," Trump told reporters. But he added: "We're very far from a recession."
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that White House officials also were thinking about a temporary payroll tax cut. The White House disputed that such a proposal was under active consideration.
The president also is looking at reducing capital-gains taxes on investments by indexing to them to inflation. However, The Wall Street Journal noted that a cut in capital gains taxes would disproportionately benefit wealthier Americans. Enabling investors to adjust the cost basis of investments for inflation would reduce taxes by about $100 billion over 10 years, the Journal said, citing the Penn-Wharton Budget Model.
Trump also continued putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, saying, "They have to do a rate cut."
Trump said the word recession is "inappropriate" and if the Fed would do its job "you would see a burst of growth like you've never seen before."
3. -- Target and Lowe's Report Earnings
Lowe's (LOW - Get Report) posted adjusted earnings in the second quarter of $2.15 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $2. Comparable-store sales rose 2.3% in the quarter. The stock rose 12.38% to $109.99 in premarket trading.
Target (TGT - Get Report) earned $1.82 a share on an adjusted basis in the second quarter, beating forecasts by 20 cents. Sales also beat analysts' estimates and the retailer raised its full-year outlook. The stock was up more than 15% to $98.40 in premarket trading.
- Target Reports Earnings Near Its All-Time High, Which Could Be a Double-Top
- Lowe's Reports Earnings With Downside Risk to Its 'Reversion to the Mean'
4. -- Alibaba Reportedly to Delay $15 Billion Listing in Hong Kong
Alibaba Group Holding (BABA - Get Report) , the Chinese e-commerce giant, has delayed its listing in Hong Kong of up to $15 billion amid growing political unrest in the city, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
While no new timetable has been formally set, Alibaba potentially could launch the deal as early as October, still seeking to raise $10 billion to $15 billion, depending on whether political tensions had eased in Hong Kong and market conditions became more favorable, one of the people told Reuters.
The decision to postpone the deal, initially set to launch in late August, was taken at a board meeting before Alibaba released earnings last week.
The delay was due to the lack of financial and political stability in Hong Kong, the people told Reuters. Political demonstrations have gripped Hong Kong over the past 11 weeks, including a massive protest that shuttered Hong Kong's airport earlier this month.
5. -- Walmart Sues Tesla for Solar Panels That Caught Fire
Walmart (WMT - Get Report) sued Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) for "gross negligence," saying that the electric car company's energy division installed solar panels that caught fire on its store rooftops.
The retailer said fires broke out at seven store rooftops between 2012 and 2018, causing millions of dollars in damage. One location in Ohio had to be closed for eight days, Walmart said in the complaint filed Tuesday.
Inspections found that several of Tesla's solar panels were broken and that wires were hanging out, causing a fire hazard. In its lawsuit, Walmart said Tesla engaged in "widespread, systemic negligence" and "failed to abide by prudent industry practices in installing, operating, and maintaining its solar systems."
In its complaint, Walmart claimed that "Tesla routinely deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems who lacked basic solar training and knowledge."
Tesla has been trying to revive its solar business. Just this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce that customers can now rent solar panels from Tesla Solar.
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