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Pre-Market Primer: Apple Defends Tax Practices; Dimon Fights to Keep Dual Role


All quiet before the Fed announcement tomorrow

Futures were little changed today as investors await tomorrow's announcement from the Federal Reserve.

With a blank economic calendar, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.08% at 15,3031 before the opening bell. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.06% to 1,665.60 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.12% to 3,024.50.

Tomorrow, all eyes will be on the Fed as it may confirm speculation that it will scale back quantitative easing from its current $85 billion monthly level. Chairman Bernanke will testify before the Joint Economic Committee tomorrow and the Federal Open Markets Committee will release the minutes of their last meeting. St. Louis and New York Fed Chiefs James Bullard and William Dudley will both deliver speeches today. Bullard is one of the monetary hawks that has expressed concerns that the Fed is fueling inflation with its policies. Yesterday, the Chicago Fed's Charles Evans said that the economy is not quite ready for quantitative easing to scale back just yet.

Overseas, Japanese stocks continued to rise, breaking records, while European indices fell. Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari said that the yen is too strong and is in the process of correction.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) could be active today as CEO Tim Cook goes to Washington to answer for its controversial tax-sheltering practices. The company raised $17 billion in a debt offering recently rather than bring billions into the US from overseas, much of it in tax havens such as Ireland. Apple outlines its policy and defends the taxes that it pays in a 17-page statement.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) will be in focus as well as Jamie Dimon makes a last ditch appeal to shareholders to allow him to keep his dual role of CEO and Chairman at the annual stockholder meeting in Florida.

Carnival Corp (NYSE:CCL) fell 6.3% after it lowered its profit projection for 2013. The cruise operator has struggled to improve its image after several high-profile disasters. To fill its ships, it lowered the price for a cruise to as low as $38 per night.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) reported earnings today that topped estimates but revenue fell short. Adjusted earnings fell to $110 million or $0.32 per share, down from $0.76 per share a year ago and revenue fell 10% to $9.38 billion.

Home Depot (NYSE:HD) shares rose 3.5% in the pre-market after the home improvement retailer reported that sales and profit beat estimates. Earnings rose to $0.83 per share in the first quarter. Home Depot's fortunes are closely correlated to the housing market, which has improved greatly in the past year.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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